Dementia Dad wants a vacation. What to do?

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My father has lewy body dementia.. Can't see, is wheelchair bound, has some horrible hallucinations (little people w/ big black eyes that want to kill him and my dogs), and his short-term memory is failing a bit..

Here is my dilemna.. He wants to go on vacation.. Ideal vacation spot for him is Florida.. This would mean either 24 hours in the car or a 2 - 3 hour flight.. Part of me wants to take him, but realistically, I wouldn't be able to handle him on my own..

Has anyone travelled w/ a loved one who has dementia / AD..? Should I take his caregiver..? Find someone in the vacation state..? It's just me.. Torn..!

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Top Answer
I lived with my husband with LBD for 10 years. We took many trips during that time, by plane, train, on cruises, and by car. As his strength declined and his problems increased, I adjusted our destinations accordingly. On our last cruise (Lake Michigan) I took a helper along. It would not have been possible for me to do it alone at that point.

My advice is take Dad on vacation if you possibly can. Maybe it can't be his ideal spot. What does he like best about Florida? What destinations are closer to him that might offer some of these things? Some of his favorite things are better than nothing, even if not "ideal."

If possible, taking someone with you that he knows and trusts would be better than hiring a stranger at the destination.

If you go all the way to Florida you may feel you should stay a while to make that travel worthwhile. If you can find suitable near-by destinations you can do shorter stays that may suit his stamina better.

I tried to get full value out of each of our trips by giving him the pleasure of anticipating it. He'd study the brochures and talk about the trip for a couple of weeks ahead. I took tons of pictures on each outing -- near or far, a couple days or a couple of weeks -- and put a scrapbook (electronically) together so he could enjoy the memories afterwards.

His LBD specialist was very much in favor of travel for him.

As an aside ... about the hallucinations. Most LBD hallucinations are benign and do not need treatment. But it sounds like Dad's are very bothersome. Have you discussed possible treatment for them with his doctor?
A day trip somewhere is about all I'd even consider. Why would you want to put yourself in that position? What if he gets sicker and you're away from his doctors?

Sounds like maybe YOU need a vacation... leave dad home ; )
You are not obligated to take him on vacation. He can stay right where he is! I find it extremely difficult to even take my husband to the dentist, who is just over a few blocks. I decided long ago that if I don't take good care of myself, eventually I will not be able to take care of my husband, either. He is very, very slow, even on his walker, he becomes very confused, and the whole situation is just not at all conducive to taking him anywhere, least of all vacation. Your loved one can just stay right where he is and be thankful that he has a loving caregiver. I simply do not give in to my husband's demands just because he has dementia. There is a limit!
Please consider taking your dad to the closest beach from where you live. Tell him it is lovely. He can feel the sand and warmth, hear the seagulls and splashing waves and families enjoying themselves. As a former airline employee, I would not recommend taking dad on a flight. Flights these days are full, seats are small and in-flight service is far from what is was years ago. Reservations must be made in advance with notification that "special needs" are requested. There are flights depending on configuration of aircraft, that cannot handle wheelchair passengers and getting through security can be a nightmare for the most seasoned travelers. Please do not take these comments as negative. I wish you and your father the very best---however, looking at the "entire" situation as I see it, the stress of traveling a thousand miles and worrying about dad is not fair to you or to him.
I took my mother with Alzheimer's on a 2 1/2 hour flight to a resort in the Bahamas. The flight was fine her old memories of flying and frequent trips kicked in. In caring for her for a number of years I learned that any anxiety on her part was when she was trying to make sense of her world, So the flight went well because she just needed a few reminders as to where we were going. I always found she enjoyed going in the car and her mind just focused on the scenery or my driving! Over all the trip was a success, she needed a little reassurance near bedtime as to where we were and when we were going home. She enjoyed looking at the water and the eating in the outdoor restaurants. I had a portable wheel chair which made it easier . If you can take a second person it would help you have a little break,
until last yr, I took my mom(96 in aug) on 2 week drive, then fly vacations. Last flight from fla to NY, she thought we were in fla. nieces visited from Conn and a day later she did not remember. Last yr I decided we would go to beach and get hotel on water for 2 days. Very stressful for me. I was figuring I would get up earlier and have nice walk on beach till she woke later. she had hard time geting out of bed and then because bathroom was different, she could not get up off toilet. 2 days later, she did not remember where we went and wanted to go on a longer trip.Supposed to take her later this month to disney and stay at resort with 2 nieces, great niece, nephew and his family. I hope they understand that this is my vacation also. After 2 days, she will not remember who was there. It appears to me that we put ourselves thru guilt trips that only we remember. Only because this is with 3 of her grandchildren, and 3 great-grands, that I am subjecting myself to this last trip. Better to get out the photo albums and laugh and talk about times before.
Hello BunnyIL, Wondering where you are located? Any possibility you are near a lake. There are a places along the lake (here in northern OHIO) where you can rent a beach house or hotel or condo on a beach, that might be closer to home. [This is what we chose to do when taking our autistic grandson on vacation, when he was younger, and the autistic behaviors and anxieties were more of an issue. We figured, if need be, we could cut the trip short and head home at anytime, which would not be possible, going farther....It's not the same issue, but similar. ] It it's the beach he likes, might be worth looking into.
Jeanne, thank you so much for your reply.. Regarding his hallucinations, he has met with psychiatrists, and they have not seen this too often.. He has been prescribed Seroquel; helps a little, but not working 100%..
a few years ago i took my husband by plane back up north because i had my health insurance there. bad trip going up. he would not stay in the small, kid in back kicking seat, guy up front had seat back. next thing i know he's in first class. "Nobody is using these seats" I told the crew about his Alzheimers. 20 min. went by and he was good. Where he was sitting i could keep an eye on him. Next thing they were asking me to get him back to his small seat. boy, what a mess that was. his calmness went and now he was arguing... i got him in the seat right behind the first class curtain and he was fine.....until he had to pee. "why can't i use that one up there" 1st class. Now he has to walk all the way to the back of the plane. I stood up and watched him go back there. he did good. was comig back to his seat and he didn't buckle his belt and DOWN went his pants...I just smiled at the passengers. i was a nut case when we got to our destination. I didn't want to fly back with him, so i called his doc. in fl. and got a couple of pills to relax him. gave him one just before take off and what a quiet flight. could not do that now.
We took my Mother on a wedding destination last month. I had LOTS of help, and needed it. She was very confused and kept asking to go home, could not find the bathroom in the hotel, did not know who anyone was. It was too much for her and I would never do it again. The reality is for her she thinks she wants to go somewhere but as soon as we get there all she wants to do is "go home." Very stressful so I just do not do it anymore.

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