Going on holiday with my dad


Registered User
Jan 10, 2006
My dad was diagnosed last year with Alzheimers + vascular dementia. I don't see him too often but he seems to have got considerably worse over the last 6 months. I am sure that he had been ill for quite a long time but he had quite a bad drink problem for many years so it was quite hard to distinguish between the two illnesses.

My mum has asked me to accompany her on holiday later this year, her and my dad's first for many years for various reasons. The destination planned is a big city and I am worried how we, and my dad, will cope with it. He does get confused and sometimes doesn't know who my mum is and he also wanders some times.

He is quite often very clear and lucid but I am worried that being abroad in a busy city could be very confusing for him and not enjoyable. I also want my mum to have a good time but I am not sure if she is being honest about the difficulties involved.

I am considering booking some guided tours with English speaking companies as I thought that might be helpful but my dad can sometimes become verbally abusive or agressive, particularly when confused.

I'm just quite worried about the whole thing and wondered whether there is any advice anyone can offer me from their own experiences.

I'm afraid I am not too knowledgeable about my dad's conditions as my mum has kept a lot from me so I am only now really beginning to understand about the problems they both experience.

Any advice would be gratefully received!



Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Sounds awful, but I wouldn't do it.

I tried holidays with Jan for absolutely as long as I could, but really felt afterwards that I had done them more for me - to prove to me she wasn't as bad as she clearly was - and not for her benefit.

They were awful for her, and no holiday for me.

It is an awful stage to come to - I then shut myself in with her to care for her at home until that was wrested from me by her dementia.

Sorry to be negative here. However, YOU must judge the situation based on his condition. It might be fine to give it a try. Can you try some half day trips first, to dip toe in water?


Registered User
Mar 12, 2005
West Sussex
Hello butterfly

I suggest you have a heart to heart with your Mum on this one, if only to enable you to have the facts about your Dad's diagnosis and state of mind at present. Maybe you could arrange to see your Dad's consultant and ask for advice.

Going away from all that is familiar to your Dad may be either fine or a disaster, so you need to be sure how you are both going to cope if he can't handle the new situation he will be in.

The only time Mum and dad went away after her diagnosis was traumatic for them both and they never went away again, sadly. But, of course it may be totally different for you, I hope so.



Registered User
Jul 2, 2005
My husband was a great traveller, but since vascular dementia has kicked in he gets quite agitated away from familiar surroundings. This developed slowly, but a couple of years ago when we went to Crete to see, but not stay with, friends who had moved there is was a great strain. Even in our own self catering cottage he fretted about not knowing where he was when he woke up, although he remembered subsequently. He then managed to disappear for 36 hours, with our hire car, which was a nightmare.
Since then, we have tried the odd weekend away in the UK staying with friends, which has not been a success. Your mum doubtless needs a holiday, but like Bruce I would say don't do it with Dad. If he is fairly OK, you can get home care for him - people who come in every day and see that he is eating the right things, etc. I have done this for a couple of much needed weeks away. Or maybe you could stay with him, and Mum get time away.
I desperately need my occasional week away, but husband does not - he will say things like 'I would like to go to India again' but if truth be known getting as far as Heathrow would upset him, so I no longer try to do the things we used to. This is really hard. Until you have gone somewhere with the sufferer, and seen that is just doesn't work, it is difficult to understand.


Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
Hi Butterfly99
this will seem very hard and unkind but there is only one way to say it,don't go!!!!!
We cannot manage a week in this country now,the last time abroad, I counted the hours to get back home.
I still think shall we risk a holiday again?
I have to be very firm with myself and say no,no ,no.
Try a little break in this country if you must,remember if you are abroad you cannot get home quickly if an emergency situation arises.

Nutty Nan

Registered User
Nov 2, 2003
... no place like home ...

Hello Butterfly,
I am afraid my advice is the same as everyone else's - away from home, and abroad even more so, any problem can quickly become a nightmare.
My husband and I met abroad, have worked abroad and have regularly travelled, but the last couple of trips were enormously stressful. Apart from the fact that he did not enjoy the out-of-routine, holiday-type things any longer, he became completely intolerant to anything that was 'imposed', such as waiting for a train/flight/passport control, he could not grasp the need for the security check at the airport and became aggressive when he had to remove his coat, keys, purse with change, etc. to go through the 'machine', and boarding a plane or train and getting seated, especially when you are struggling with luggage as well, was a momentous task. It doesn't help that you feel exposed to the stares and judgement of all and sundry, as fellow travellers have little else to do but give you meaningful looks ....

I took all sorts of precautions, was armed with a declaration from our GP as well as little 'flash cards' in case I needed to discreetly explain away some odd behaviour, but I don't have any good memories of our last few trips.

Sorry to add to the negative responses, but I hope you can find a destination nearer by, which will be less challenging and also easier to get back from if it doesn't work out.

Best wishes to you all!


Registered User
Sep 21, 2005
mixed feelings

hello everyone
have real mixed feelings , I am going on holiday next week with husband with AD, because i wanted to do things he previousley loved doing, we are going sking in France, the sking does not worry me to much, he is still very able, but if he becomes agitated in a restaurant, or feels confused he will just vanish and this really is worrying, bought walkie takies but do not really think he will be able to use them if he is agitated, will just have to see how it goes, we were travellers for many years, but India would be a real no no now, but I want to see his face when he hits the pist e again hope Iam not being selfish, but he as packed allready. He is sleeping in shed tonight, but think this is because he has memory clinic tomorrow and it is worrying him, since his score was 11 last time, hope they do not stop the aricept. only just achieved correct theraputic dose after 12 months.All i can say is give it ago, and if it does not work out, then home it is for us, thank goodness for cheap easy jet flights to get home quickly. will let you know how it goes. Pam


Registered User
Mar 27, 2004

Sorry Bufterfly but no way would I risk abroad.

I found in the earlier stages we could manage coaching holidays in Britain as long as we stayed in one hotel. In fact for the first four years after Margaret was diagnosed we went on four or five each year. Even then she managed to get lost on two occasions, once in York for five hours and the other time in Stranraer this time for only one hour. I got the police involved as soon as she was missiing but I was in a terrible state of panic and guilt. What would have happened abroad I dread to think.

From the bit you have said about your dad this might be a suitable alternative as most tours have entertainment at night and almost every day is taken up with trips out, the majority of that tme being spent on the coach.

On a more positive note there is a charitable organisation called Vitalise which specialises in holidays for disabled people and their carers in England. Unfortunately they only take Alzheimer's sufferers on specified weeks and you have great difficulty getting in. However it is worth investigating, you can find them on the Internet at www.vitalise.org.uk

Hope you find some encouragement in this.

Cheers Barraf


Registered User
Dec 11, 2003
Tully, Qld, Australia
Dear Barraf,

Thank you so much for the info about Vitalise. I have subscribed to their email newsletter.

Please could you post a short note on the Resources Thread too.

Many thanks,



Registered User
Oct 15, 2005
I too would say ,don't do it. I've tried this with my Mum & Dad (for Dad's sake and before we got a diagnosis). Mum was upset, confused unhappy, aggresive etc. and we went to family in Germany, a very unhappy time. I then tried for a holiday in this country but she became so distressed on the morningwe were to travel that we couldn''t go. Whatever you decide, I hope that it is the right thing for you but have a heart to heart with Mum before going.


Registered User
Jan 10, 2006
Thank you all for your advice and being so honest.

I wondered last night whether I seemed like I was perhaps being too pessimistic about the whole idea but I am reassured to know that my concerns are real.

I will definitely have a chat with my mum about this when my dad isn't around and perhaps try a weekend away locally with them both and see how it goes. I do feel really sad for my mum as I think she really wants to go away and has convinced herself that it will be great but I'm afraid now I will need to try and bring her down to earth a bit.

Thanks again to you all, you have really helped confirm my concerns and now I feel much better armed to broach the subject properly with my mum. :


Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
butterfly99 said:
My dad was diagnosed last year with Alzheimers + vascular dementia. I don't see him too often but he seems to have got considerably worse over the last 6 months. ... ...
I'm afraid I am not too knowledgeable about my dad's conditions as my mum has kept a lot from me so I am only now really beginning to understand about the problems they both experience.

Can't add to the advice given above, apart from agreeing with the general tone that you might well be courting disaster by going too far from home. Perhaps you could go to stay with them, and take them out & about in the local area, where it's not too difficult to get home if you need to, especially if he's sundowning. What you might have spent on a 'foreign' holiday would fund expensive splurges here.

It can be very difficult to appreciate the everyday nuts-&-bolts of serious & progressive illness when you live far from home & parents, so my comment would be sieze this opportunity to bring yourself up to speed about Dad's condition, and get your Mum to both take you into her confidence AND share the load with you a bit. Be tactful, bite your tongue on the exasperation you will probably feel and get physical, by which I mean hugs & kisses. Sometimes you can't find the right words, but a hug speaks volumes. OK, it may not come easily, but just do it! It will get easier each time.

Good luck & Best Wishes
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