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Airline travel? Any advice?
Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2019 7:56 PM
Joined: 5/25/2018
Posts: 14

My DH has early onset atypical Alzheimer's - as of July, Dr felt he was at Stage 5 of 7.  He sometimes doesn't know where our bedroom is in a house we have lived in for over 12 years....sometimes, like tonight, he thinks he is back in his home town on the other side of the country.  Other times, he knows where we are and knows the rooms in the house.  

Our second grandson arrived the end of July and I would really like to go see him (trip takes 5-6 hours including the time at the airports and involves one stop).   Both of DH's doctors have advised against going on any trips with him because he gets confused even at home.  When we made the trip in March, he was sure he was in the barracks and guys across the hall were trying to use his shaving things, etc.  During the layover on the return trip, he kept pushing me to go up to the desk at the gate and get a refund of the rest of our tickets because the wait was too long.  He had a hard time understanding we couldn't do that and even if we did, we were still 2+ hours by air from home.  

Any suggestions on how I might be able to take him or how I go myself (if I can find 24 hour care for him that he will accept) without completely upsetting him?  


Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2019 8:17 PM
Joined: 5/16/2017
Posts: 412

I would hire someone to stay with him while I went myself.  

Do not try to ‘prepare’ him for you leaving.  Have the caregiver show up + you leave immediately,  being very matter of fact...bye, I’ll see you later.   This ‘friend of mine’ is

going to stay with you.

Make sure the caregiver is familiar with dementia and how to distract + deal with PWM s.

By no means would I try to travel with him at this stage.

You might also be able to have him stay at a facility for a few days in a respite situation,

Call your Dr, local nursing homes, hospital, County dept of aging,  etc for advice + referrals

Rescue mom
Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2019 8:24 PM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 982

Taking him on an airplane—which doctorS have already advised against—is likely to be a nightmare for him. An agitated PWD on a plane, or with airport security? You are looking at huge disaster. (I wrote a longer post that blinked off, probably for the best.)

Get somebody to stay with him, or find a place for him to stay. Don’t talk about it beforehand, just do it. He might be upset, but usually they get over that much faster than the bad that can happen in an airport or airplane. but the potential damage is far less than what could happen going. Or wait until the kids come to you. We have grandkids, I’ve tried all the above. Trying to take him on that kind of trip is just flat dangerous, with long term damage potential.

And what if something happened to YOU? That’s less likely, but it does happen. What would he do then, what would happen to him, and you?

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2019 10:30 PM
Joined: 5/7/2018
Posts: 150

I had to give up air travel completely---and long car rides. My DH had incidents every time we did fly. He once completely didn't know who I was when we got back to our home airport, and wouldn't get in the car. When I finally did get him in the car, he ranted and raved that I was kidnapping him. This went on for a very long time. Another time, he wouldn't get on the shuttle to where we parked the car because he insisted we had more luggage that we left behind. We missed two shuttles until I finally convinced him. None of these flights were more than an hour. And he would usually have an incident where we were visiting, which was  at one of our two kids' houses, places he had been to many times prior to the AD. I no longer want to go through that. It is just too unpredictable.And now my kids are afraid to come home to visit us because his behavior has been aggressive the last times they were here. It just stinks. I can't see my daughters and my grandkids because of this horrible disease.
Mrs. O
Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2019 12:18 AM
Joined: 8/1/2017
Posts: 296

Can you encourage them to come to you instead?  Way easier!  Offer to pay their travel expenses, because you would have spent it on travel yourself the other way around. I can’t go any farther than the next town (about 10 miles) with my DH. He insists that I am going the wrong way, etc.  We’re both miserable. I have opened our doors to anybody and everybody who wants to come and see us. 

PS... we live in a beach town, so we get lots of takers!  

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2019 5:36 AM
Joined: 12/7/2017
Posts: 47

I like Mrs. O suggestion that they come to you, more than likely it would be a day of hell on the airplane. On our last and final trip on an airplane with my DW, I had to go to the head of TSA at DFW airport to get her through security, took well over an hours.  She liked the crowds at the airport and didn't mind the wait at the gate but once we got on the plane, it was tough. Scared at every noise and bump and had to go to the bathroom every few minutes. This from a lady who was a flight attendant for 39 years. It just is not worth it, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack from all the stress.
Rescue mom
Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2019 6:53 AM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 982

Airplanes  have many, many infants onboard. Ask them to come to you. It’s not easy, but Far easier than dealing with a confused, agitated adult in airport and plane.

Our last airplane trips were nightmares. The crowds, rush, security, being “confined” on board, all upset my DH terribly. And he was far FAR more confused, and therefore upset, in strange surroundings. Functioned much worse than at home, plus his emotional turmoil. 

Trips away together are another thing lost to this disease. It’s hard to accept, but it is the way it is.

But I do leave him with family and travel myself. He does not like it, but he forgets the whole thing very quickly. What I’ve found works best is not discuss it beforehand, just do it, very matter-of-factly. Do not call while gone. He adjusts, or deals, very fast after I leave, but if I call or if he’s “reminded” by others I’m gone, that creates problems. On return, act like you’ve been away a few minutes.

Your attitude will do much to set his attitude.

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2019 7:19 AM
Joined: 3/1/2017
Posts: 56

Many Memory Care units will allow for short-term stays so that might be an option for you as well.
Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2019 9:15 AM
Joined: 3/7/2012
Posts: 2356

I believe you already know the answer to this question. If in the past travel has been difficult you sadly can assume it will only be worse this time. The suggestion of contacting memory care facilities for him to stay in is a very good suggestion.

Just yesterday a friend of mine told me she was going to an out of state wedding this weekend. When I asked where her DH with the disease was going she told me to a facility. She said he'll hate it for about 30 minutes then get distracted and it will be fine. She tries to leave him there a night or two a month - she says its for her sanity. Before anyone says a thing, her comment is that yes its very expensive, but she's worth it. Wise words in my book.


Gig Harbor
Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2019 10:48 AM
Joined: 3/10/2016
Posts: 569

I have wondered if caregivers could last longer in the trenches if they could schedule 5-7 days of respite a month. I am not there yet but I have thought about it for the future.
Rescue mom
Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2019 11:48 AM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 982

Gig—I think even just the hope, and being able to expect, a few regular days of respite would be huge for most caregivers. That would be such a dream. You probably saw the post from the caregiver about no hope for tomorrow.

Even if affordable, the arranging, finding the place or person, is huge. I have done it with family, but even kids make it clear their time/ability is limited. I have to want to go really bad to balance the needed arrangements. The biggest burden of caregiving IMHO is the endless responsibility..this words.

Very few places—virtually none that I can find—in my area allow short-term stays in MC. So that leaves family or in-home people 24/7.


Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2019 11:53 AM
Joined: 6/12/2016
Posts: 527

It would be wonderful if you could go without him. You could relax and enjoy your family and the new baby. You definitely deserve this trip.

I wish you luck finding the perfect situation for DH so you can make this happen. And like the others suggested, do not mention or discuss it with him, it will only confuse him.