Travelling with an Alzheimer's sufferer

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by okmurrays, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. okmurrays

    okmurrays Registered User

    Oct 17, 2007
    118
    kelowna, bc, canada
    Hello
    I'm new to the forum. My dad has Alzheimers and my mum is doing sterling work caring for him. He's still in the relatively early stages. We live thousands of miles away in British Columbia, Canada. We were hoping that both my parents would be able to come and visit us for a month next year - to give them both a break.
    We have plenty of room and a large garden. It's beautiful here.
    My mum saw the consultant with my dad today and he's not advising that my dad should travel. It's the flight that's the problem - nine hours from the UK. Naturally we're upset, but my mum is very down.
    Does anyone have any experience of travelling with a family member with Alzheimers, and any thoughts or advice? Obviously we take what the consulant says seriously, but if there's any way we can give them a break over here we're keen to hear it.
    Thank you.
     
  2. BeckyJan

    BeckyJan Registered User

    Nov 28, 2005
    18,972
    Derbyshire
    Hello there - if your parents are given clearance from the medics here and insurance clearance I would say 'go for it'.

    Our daughter was in Toronto when my husband first started with Alz. and travel was ok. As a partner of an Alz. sufferer it was a bit difficult - but as the 'healthy partner' I was so so pleased to see my daughter. You seem more aware than my daughter was at that time so maybe you will be even more supportive.

    I am not sure why your consultant would advise against travel!!!!! - big question mark here ???? Only your Mum can measure the confusion and difficulty for her - and that is the big IF. If he becomes easily disorientated then maybe there is a problem.

    I feel I am rambling but so want you to have that visit. Please PM me if you have special personal thoughts.

    Take care Jan
     
  3. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    I'd be checking with the airline first.

    9 hours is a long time when you are young and fit, but if the dementia has gone any stage beyond early, I'd be reckoning no.

    But do check with the airline. they may be able to assign special seats or they may flatly refuse to have someone with dementia on board.

    On our last long haul holiday, I was advised to tell the airline on the return trip that she was scared of flying otherwise they might not have brought her home. On the way out she had been fine, on the way home she was fine, but we might have been refused passage! :eek:
     
  4. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Hi, I'd check with the consultant to see why he didn't think it was a good idea.

    The trouble is, 'early stage' can mean so many different things, and what would be perfectly OK for one would be impossible for another.

    My husband and I flew to New Zealand four years ago, three years after diagnosis. Two 13 hour flights each way, with a three-day stopover in Singapore. No problems.

    Two years ago we flew to Toronto, five years post diagnosis -- again no problems. But he had a slow-developing form of dementia.

    If your dad shows any sign of agitation, or is becoming incontinent, there could be problems on the flight. Best to check.

    Having said that, if it's at all possible it would be great for both your parents, and also good for you to have that time with them.

    Would it be possible for someone to fly with them, to help your mum?

    If it's at all possible, I agree with Jan, go for it.
     
  5. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    16,154
    Toronto, Canada
    I think the consultant may be hesitant about the travel because you are looking at travel in the longer term, i.e. next year. What about travel in the immediate future? I was obliged to move my mother from BC to Ontario & that flight really confused her in a big way. It really is not recommended. She was considered to be early stages at that point.

    Is it possible for you to go over & take care of things there and give your mother a break that way? Perhaps do a few day trips? Even in the early stages, change is not a good thing. Keeping your father in his familiar surroundings while you visit may help.

    Good luck
     
  6. okmurrays

    okmurrays Registered User

    Oct 17, 2007
    118
    kelowna, bc, canada
    Thanks

    ...for the thoughts.
    We will, of course, be guided by the consultant, but I hoped that there would be some way they could visit. My mum has arthritis and the climate here is so much better than in England. We have a two bed apartment in our basement which opens out onto the garden. It's fully self sufficient, and would give them some privacy whilst being able to wander up to us when they felt like it. We have mountain views one side, and Lake Okanagan on the other. I'm sure a month here would do both of them good.
    I have thought about going back and helping out, but I have kids and an OH who does a demanding job which involves him being away some of the time. So it's not easy to up sticks and go - much more practical to have them here. Luckily my sister lives close to my parents and her son is grown up and she doesn't work, so she's able to help out.
    Will give the subject some more thought.....even considered booking them on the QM2 to New York rather than flying, but then I have to get them across North America! :eek: My dad is still up to mini breaks in hotels, so I thought he might be okay on a cruise ship......
     
  7. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    We cruised too, right up to last year. The main problem with that is that cruise ships are so big these days, with every deck looking more or less the same, and no sense of fore and aft, that most people manage to get lost a few times. Imagine what that is like for someone with dementia! John and I had to go everywhere together, I even had to wait outside the gents for him, because he'd be sure to turn the wrong way when he came out!

    I considered a walkie talkie, but he wouldn't have been able to use one.

    And then, as you say there's the problem of getting across N America.

    No, if there's any possibility of flying, I'd do it that way.
     
  8. okmurrays

    okmurrays Registered User

    Oct 17, 2007
    118
    kelowna, bc, canada
    Becky Jan

    Thanks for the PM Becky Jan. I've tried to reply but you've exceeded your mailbox limit so it won't accept my message. My parents live in Warwickshire.
     
  9. okmurrays

    okmurrays Registered User

    Oct 17, 2007
    118
    kelowna, bc, canada
    Skye

    BTW Skye, my mother had the same experience as you re the gents. They went away for a few days and my mum waited for my dad outside the public loos. He managed to give her the slip and was off up the road trying to catch a bus....
     
  10. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,885
    Kent
    I travelled long haul with my husband in 2006, and we went business class.

    I had contacted the airline, on advice from the GP and consultant, who both approved the journey.

    The airline staff were brilliant and so were ground staff. There was always a male staff member available to make sure my husband got back to me when he went to the toilet, on both journeys.

    He was confused and bewildered on arrival, but did settle. He had no idea of the distance we`d covered.

    We are unable to go anywhere now as we can`t get travel insurance. This is something new with travel companies. It can be bought but at a cost.

    I would never travel against the advice of the medics.

    Good luck. xx
     
  11. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    1,370
    Newport, Gwent
    Hi okmurrays

    I am sure it would be fantastic if your parents could visit you, it sounds ideal. The cruise idea sounds the best, and maybe the flight trip could be broken down into two smaller chunks to give dad a break in between. Just a thought, but could someone else travel with them, maybe another relative.

    I hope you manage to pull this off, apart from giving your mum and dad a wonderful holiday, what memories they will have. I'm all for grabbing things whilst you are able, because who knows what the future will hold.

    Love
    Cate xx
     
  12. okmurrays

    okmurrays Registered User

    Oct 17, 2007
    118
    kelowna, bc, canada
    Thanks for the kind thoughts.
    My dad does get confused when he's away from familiar surroundings, but, fortunately he doesn't have problems with incontinence (yet). I've been in touch with a specialist travel insurer here in Canada which offers travel insurance to seniors, including UK citizens, and explained both parents' medical histories. They can be insured and, for a 25% additional cost, include pre-existing conditions. It works out about $10 a day each, so for a 30 day break they will be covered for around £300 for both of them.
    I was wondering about sending them on premium economy with BA. That way the cabin won't be so crowded. It's a thought I'm mulling over.
    I certainly wouldn't pressurise them to come, or go against medical advice, but I do want to explore all the options for them.
    If they come here we have a two bed suite on the ground floor with its own patio which looks out onto a half acre of garden and then onto the pine trees and a provincial park. We have a stag who walks through the garden every morning, and marmots, quails etc who wander around too. In late spring the hummingbirds join us. The lake is only a two minute walk away and it's peaceful. Plus the neighbourhood here is safe and everyone knows everyone. Much more neighbourly than when we were in the UK. There's a disabled girl who lives two doors from us and she is far from excluded. A true feeling of community here. If dad wandered off - heaven forbid - then someone would pretty soon find him and bring him home. Fortunately we have a long drive down to the road, so we'd spot him missing before he'd gone!
    My dad can have space and a place to rest when he needs it, and our company, including the dog (he loves dogs) when he wants too. I can be on hand to help my mum and she'll have a complete break from the chores and some of the pressure taken off her. I thought if they came for a month then dad would have chance to get acclimatised to the place.
    We'll see. What will be will be, but they both deserve a break, and I'm convinced the fresh BC air would be a real tonic.
     
  13. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    Great stuff!

    I'd still think about checking with the airline as well, just to cover all bases.

    Premium Economy is a very good idea. The precise seats can be reserved on the internet if not at the time of booking. Near emergency exit gives more space if that's an option.
     
  14. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,438
    I don't think emergency exit seat would work Bruce if that's what you were proposing - you have to be fit and healthy to be in those because, god forbid, you might need to actually operate those exits :eek:

    I did actually consider a ship crossing when I was trying to work out whether I could bring my mother to live over here (there was no way she could have managed on a plane) and the price wasn't incredibly high, particularly if you could take advantage of the lower rate "positioning" cruises (where the cruise lines relocate thir ships from one ocean to another on a seasonable basis).
     
  15. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,885
    Kent
    Near emergency exits would be OK, but by emergency exits....not reccommended.

    My husband likes the security of a seat in front of him, even on the bus. If he sits with nothing to hold on to in front of him, he clings for dear life to the actual seat.

    Since the onset of AD, he is unable to move/sway with the movement of the transport and becomes very nervous.
     
  16. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    10,824
    london
    #16 Margarita, Oct 18, 2007
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2007
    My mother traveled with me in late stages 3 separate times , 2 hour flights .

    2nd 3rd mum needed wheel chair , because they lot of walking in airport to get flight . I never thought to tell airline and no one ask me what was wrong with mum when they saw her with wheelchair , just ask can she walk in side airplane , as they put mum and I in a lift to get up in to airplane with wheelchair , they sat us in normal seat , even thought I had book seat near doors so mum would have more leg room also did it
    on the internet , BA said something about mum being elderly and health safety law .

    mum was fine in airplane .
     
  17. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    Hi Sylvia and Jennifer

    yes, of course, you are correct about the emergency seat.:eek:

    The reason I bang on about asking the airline is that we all know about drunks who cause planes to be diverted and make unscheduled landings. Well, if someone with dementia throws an unexpected wobbly then that might cause the same effect, if the crew have not been pre-warned.

    Aircraft in economy [even premium economy] are not pleasant places to be for long periods and it could well faze a dementia person.

    On our last trip gack from the West Indies, we lied, frankly [on the advice of the travel rep], telling the airline [Virgin] that Jan was scared of flying. I wanted to get her back safely, and telling them that gave us 3 seats across all to ourselves.

    It was our wedding anniversary and the flight crew also gave us a complimentary glass of champers.
     
  18. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    10,824
    london
    thats the word
    that I book for us and they never let us sit they . did not read Sylvia and Jennifer post .
     
  19. carolyn

    carolyn Registered User

    Dec 1, 2006
    9
    kent
    go for it

    my partner has advanced vascular dementia. My doctors seemed quite happy about us travelling. This year we flew nine hours to gambia. The flight was indeed long and tiring but he really enjoyed the holiday by the pool. You just have take take it slowly and clmly. Then we flew to greece and stayed there for three weeks so there was time to get into a routine.

    Its hard work and really you need two people to help..but in our case it did work and it was wonderful to see Dave smiling again!!!

    the pleasure of seeing you all willbe worth the journey and change!!!

    Last year we also flew to vancouver as daves son was getting married and again it worked. he was so happy to see his sons and family!!

    i say go for it!

    carolyn
     
  20. okmurrays

    okmurrays Registered User

    Oct 17, 2007
    118
    kelowna, bc, canada
    Hi Carolyn
    Thank you for the support. Forgive my ignorance, but what are the symptoms of vascular dementia? I am trying to get to grips with what the exact issues are that my dad may face. I am encouraged that you made it to Vancouver, and wondered if there are any tips/hints you can give us?
    Many thanks
     

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