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My mom and I recently flew to see her brother. She has mild dementia. The whole trip she was fine, just her usual forgetful, slightly confused self. However once we had flown home she became extremely confused, not knowing where we were, had been, and had done. It was upsetting her so much to not know what was going on. I had to calm her down, tell her that it was ok to not remember because in a day or two it would come back (I hope it does, has only been 2 days). I told her to just relax and let me do the thinking for her. Is there anything I could have done before, during, or after her travel to help her not be so confused? Maybe shown her a simple itinerary to keep in hand, or...I don't know.

Sounds to me like you are handling this just right. Your mother is unsettled for the moment, and you are reassuring her. It's the equivalent of her being physically very tired after a long journey and needing a couple of days' rest.

During the trip, did your mother enjoy seeing her brother? And while you were actually travelling, were you able to keep her occupied and comfortable? It's a matter of balancing the benefits and drawbacks to decide whether a project is worth undertaking, rather than just deciding she mustn't ever do *anything* that might stress or tire her.

Simple explanations given in the situation are best, and yes a basic itinerary might be a good idea; but I think you're dealing with this fine.
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earlybird Aug 13, 2019
Excellent post, Countrymouse.
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I’m noticing in my dealings with my LO and her floor mates in her very pleasant AL/MC setting, that the term, “mild dementia” means whatever a speaker or listener decides it means, rather than being very specific or easy to generalize from one patient to the next.

My LO was diagnosed as having “mild to moderate dementia”, and since I was familiar with her forgetful and anxiety ridden behavior, I knew pretty much what to expect.

As she continues into her second year of residential care, I notice less ability to deal with situations she finds socially stressful, more confusion about navigating her surrounding, more yelling and cursing, overall a significant change from her previous behavior.

In retrospect, I can now compare “mild” and “moderate”, at least in my own grasp of her illness. When taking care of my MIL, a vacation away from home took her from being fairly independent to becoming disoriented and dependent upon us in a very short period of time.

perhaps your mom was keeping herself together as long as she could, OP.
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Reply to AnnReid
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Any change in routine is going to affect our LOs with dementia, even mild D. If you plan on traveling with her again in the near future, I would see if her doc can prescribe something to address the agitation, although I'm not in a medical field, others on this forum are and can recommend more specific meds.

You can also take pics and video with your mom in them, and show her those at the end of each day to jog her memory (and be aware she may just be pretending to remember it, as a survival tactic, not because she's being deceptive). An itinerary would help but pictures with her and LOs in it would be better. Cell phones are such an awesome tool...remember to use it!
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Poor Mom and poor you. Unfortunately, one of the main symptoms of dementia is extreme confusion, especially when the scenery changes to something and someplace unfamiliar. I have the feeling that even with continuous explanations from you that everything is ok and that you will handle everything she will still continue to be confused. She could possibly be medicated with a light dose of something like Xanax, but when someone suffers with dementia, medicating them is always risky.

When and if you two travel again, you’ll need to be prepared for the same thing to happen, and you’ll need to decide if the trips are worth it, or if it might be better for Mom if people came to see her. Good luck. Sending (((Hugs))).
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Sometimes this form of dementia is just a simple case of dehydration. With traveling we are eating and drinking differently and this happens quite quickly. Try fluids if she doesn't get back to herself she might need an IV or need to be checked for a Urinary Tract Infection.
This is just from my experience personally and in the health and hospice field.
Hoping this is helpful.
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Reply to cindic0911
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I'd rethink travel from now on. Dementia can cause confusion and that can be quite scary and unsettling to a person. I'd invite others to come to her. Even in the early days, my LO would get confused and disoriented, even after an afternoon trip to the doctor's office. I'm not aware of any way to keep a person oriented to place and time, when their brain is not capable of doing it.
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Not taken her in the first place when she stands no chance of being able to process the information of which she has had overload in the correct order.
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I don't think there's much you can do about her confusion. Hopefully it will pass.

Maybe travel is not in her best interest anymore. Even if she enjoys it, is the "cost" too high, with her being so unsettled, etc.?
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Reply to againx100
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Doing a great job, KiminAL. Countrymouse's recent post was excellent, she is a very wise woman. I think it is wonderful of you to take your mother to see her brother. It seems your mother did quite well on the flight, but when she got home she became more confused. She should adjust within a week. It took my mother about three to four days to get rested up after a long trip. My mother becomes afraid at times and I reassure her everything is ok, give her a big hug , say a prayer together, and that usually calms her down. I think you are on the right track with your mom. Wishing you many happy times with your mom.
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Reply to earlybird
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Best advice is to not mention the past since she cannot remember. No one likes admitting to memory loss. I suffer some myself - I took too many hits to my head when I was younger and have struggled with memory loss for a very long time.

When the 2 month bout of pneumonia took my DH's memories, I just told him that is why he had me - I was his memory keeper. It helped a little.

When he didn't recognize me, I learned to just stand there for a minute or so until he focused on me and then recognition would register in his eyes and he'd say, "OH, it is you."

Understanding and compassion are what your mother needs most - not trying to remember that which is gone.
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