Flying with someone who has dementia

Traveling during the holidays is always a challenge. And going through security, boarding the plane, and sitting for hours is a double challenge for someone who has dementia. Here are a few tips to make it easier:

  • If possible, pack everything in a light backpack to carry on board to avoid waiting at baggage claim.
  • Check in online to avoid lines at the airport.
  • Leave the lace-up shoes at home. Velcro shoes or slip-on shoes are a must.
  •  Most airports have a seating area a few feet from where you pick up your belongings where you can put yourself back together.
  • Just beyond that is a handicapped seating area where you can hitch a ride on an electric cart that brings you to your gate.
  •  Use the family restrooms, rather than the public restrooms.  Your loved one will appreciate the help.
  • Take advantage of early boarding.
  •  Bring your own food, snacks and water.
  •  Let a flight attendants know about special needs. They are more than willing to help.
  •  Don’t worry about your loved one getting locked inside the cabin restroom. It is possible to open the door from the outside.
  • Bring a CD player or get headphones for entertainment and relaxation.
  • Sit back and try to relax!



The best gifts for people with dementia

Instead of worrying about what to give a friend or loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia consider this. What that person really wants more than anything is to just be with you.

So here’s a list of things you can do together.

  • People with dementia love ice cream. Share a pint of his or her favorite. Bring the toppings and arrange them on a table in little bowls—sprinkles, chocolate chips, chopped fruit, whipped cream, butterscotch or chocolate sauce, etc.
  • Watch a comedy together. It doesn’t matter if your loved one can follow the plot or not. If you laugh, he or she will probably join in the merriment. Laughter triggers the production of endorphins; the brain chemicals that reduce the sensation of pain and make you feel good.
  • Bring a dog to visit your loved one. If you don’t have one, borrow one. There’s nothing like a friendly pup to cheer someone up and add some excitement.
  • Listen to music together. Big Band Music is usually a hit with most 70, 80 and 90 year olds. If your loved one is younger, you can try classic rock.
  • Get out the paint brush, paper and water colors. You don’t have to be an artist or art teacher to have fun with your loved one. Painting and drawing is a great way to share time together, and to even express feelings of frustration, irritation and fear—on paper.
  • Dance to the music. If your loved one is still mobile help him or her get up and move. The exercise will enhance memories, even if temporarily. A short surge of condensed exercise boosts the compression of memories in both elders in good mental shape as well as those with slight cognitive impairment, according to new research by a team of scientists from UC Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory.
  • Go for a drive and get some fresh air. Just getting out of the house or memory care home does a body good. Put on a CD and sing together.
  • Hold hands, give a foot massage, tell stories without saying, “remember when . . .”
  • Just breathe together and be still in the silence. It’s the greatestgift of all.