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Tips for Traveling with a Loved One Who has Dementia – By Stephanie Goldstein, BSW, LBSW

We are just past the mid-point of summer but it’s still prime travel time. A family friend’s recent experience prompted me to examine and evaluate the idea of traveling with someone who has a dementia diagnosis. They were staying in a small-town South Carolina resort (about a 14 hour car drive from New Jersey.) Unfortunately, during the vacation, the person with dementia was hospitalized with pneumonia and was admitted to the ICU (intensive care unit) of a small hospital.

The wife of the patient with dementia was left alone when her adult kids returned to their homes since she did not bring a paid caregiver on the trip. The hospital staff were not equipped to handle his needs and did not provide adequate support or an appropriate plan of care. Their disappointing experience was a harsh reminder of the challenges of traveling with someone who has dementia, what can happen, and why being prepared with a plan is imperative.

Families often plan “one last big trip” with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.  Here are tips to make this trip as stress-free as possible:

  • Bring copies of all legal paperwork (advance directives, POA)
  • Bring insurance cards and a list of medications
  • Learn the area ahead of time (local hospitals, pharmacies, urgent cares)
  • Place a bracelet on your loved one that identifies them, the emergency contact and diagnosis.  Enrolling your loved one in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return program ( is a great idea.
  • Be sure to let your loved one’s regular doctor know you are going on vacation and communicate with your provider if there is a hospitalization

As a caregiver, consider the following for yourself:

  • Carry an identification card stating you are a caregiver of someone with dementia and who to contact in the event of an emergency
  • Have the name, location and phone number of where you are staying on vacation on your person
  • If you can, bring along a companion/caregiver to assist with the travel and trip

If you implement these tips, your trip is more likely to be less stressful and fun for everyone, including your loved one with dementia. Safe travels!


Stephanie Goldstein, BSW, LBSW, has been in healthcare for over 15 years. Her experience includes both working directly with patients and as a manager in mental health and long term care. She is passionate about educating patients and families on options while promoting self-determination for those with complex physical, cognitive or mental health diagnoses. A frequent guest lecturer for Johns Hopkins University’s Certificate on Aging program, she also loves teaching professionals about best practices in working with older generations.

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How To Be Safe and Have Fun Traveling With Mom and Dad – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

Traveling this summer with an older loved one?  Not sure how to plan?  Then get yourself a copy of Planes, Canes And Automobiles: Connecting With Your Aging Parents Through Travel by Valerie M. Grubb!

Born from Grubb’s blog, Planes, Canes And Automobiles primarily offers helpful strategies for adult children taking their parents on vacation.  Caregivers of an older loved one planning travel during the summer for weddings, family reunions and other functions will also find practical ideas on how to make it easier. Further, many strategies in this book can help caregivers and older loved ones more efficiently and safely travel for medical appointments.  While adult children and other caregiving family members will find this book invaluable, older persons who simply want to save time, energy and money while vacationing will find lots of helpful ideas in this book.

You can purchase Planes, Canes and Automobiles here:


Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

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Travel This Holiday Season With An Older Loved One

This time of year, plans are being made for travel this holiday season. Traveling during the holidays can often be daunting: traffic, airport delays, bad weather. But what if you will travel this holiday season with an older loved one? There are a whole other set of possible challenges to anticipate.

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