Plan ahead for a smoother, more pleasant airport and flying experience.
Many Alzheimer’s patients enjoy travelling, but as the disease progresses, patients (and caregivers!) will find it increasingly difficult. These tips will help make your next air travel experience as stress-free as possible.
1 BOOK A NON-PEAK, NON-STOP FLIGHT
Avoid crowded airports, overbooked flights, flight delays, and crazy lineups by aiming for off-peak travel: Monday afternoon through Thursday morning. And book a direct flight if you can: it eliminates the hassle of navigating another airport.
2 CAN’T GET A DIRECT FLIGHT? CHOOSE A LONGER STOPOVER
Waiting can be frustrating, but it’s better than missing your connecting flight! Flight delays and long treks between boarding gates conspire to make tight connections a bad idea.
3 ALERT THE AIRLINE OF YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS…
when you book, or within 48 hours of departure. Request a wheelchair (it’s free) even if it isn’t technically necessary. The perks: your own airport escort, faster security screening, eligibility for pre-boarding, all of which make for a better experience for Alzheimer’s patients.
4 HAVE THE NUMBER FOR AIRPORT MEDICAL SERVICES HANDY
Google the contact info for the Airport Medical Services at both airports and program them in your phone or jot them down on a reference card in case of an urgent matter (that’s not quite 911-worthy).
5 MAKE A DETAILED ITINERARY
Include flight dates, times and numbers, lodging details, and any planned activities. Give copies to emergency contacts back home, and take a copy in your purse or carry-on.
6 PACK EVERYTHING YOU NEED IN YOUR CARRY-ON (NOT CHECKED BAGGAGE)
• Detailed travel itinerary
• ID and legal documents (power of attorney, living will, insurance information etc)
• Medications (Make a list with doctor contact info)
• Emergency contacts,
• Water, non-perishable snacks, activities/books
• Plastic bag and change of clothes for your traveling companion
7 DON’T BE SHY.
Tell airport employees, security/immigration screeners, and flight staff that your travelling companion has Alzheimer’s/dementia, to improve understanding.