Contemplating a long car trip with Alzheimer's disease wife. Good idea or not?


She has walked out of hotel room before, but I have a door alarm now. She rides in the car quite well. Trip would take at least 3 days each way. The trip is for a class reunion and to see family and friends. Air travel is not an option. Good idea or not?



1 2 3
Thank you all for your comments. I have decided NOT to take her along and she will be in respite care.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to cpldutch
Grandma1954 Sep 14, 2018
Great decision.
I do hope you have a good time.
I know you will miss her but I am sure she will be much happier and you will have fewer worries.
See 2 more replies
I'm curious to know what plans you have for her while you're at the reunion, since I assume she's not going to it. Seems like a lot could go wrong in 6 days OTR and in a new place unless you're planning on having her be watched by those family members you're visiting while you attend the reunion.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to HorsewithNoName
cpldutch Sep 14, 2018
she would attend
I would recommend to bring someone you trust and able to work with both of you to go with you. I believe it’s a good idea but make sure you have someone to watch her when you need to get something done fast. This would be a lot more relaxing for all of you. Have a good trip and enjoy your reunion.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to ElMa10r

Honestly, no.
Is this your reunion? Will you be able to "enjoy" your time with your friends the whole time?
If you're going to feel guilty about not taking her on the trip, find a caregiver who is licensed and bonded from a reputable in-home care to travel with you and babysit while you're at your reunion.
You can also place her in a rehab facility for the time period you'll be gone.
It isn't that you're embarrassed having to explain to your friends if your wife is with you, BUT it is harder on her!
Alzheimer's sufferers PANIC, become AGITATED and can hurt themself, you or anyone.
If she's incontenet, will you be attentive enough to help her before it becomes embarrassing for her?
The respite will be good for you.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to dkentz72

I would not recommend it as taking her out of her comfort zone can be very hard for both of you. She may ride well in the car but you will be dealing with bathroom issues and motel issues which will be disruptive for her. I also know how !uvh stress you will be under. Not sure it is worth it for her. Might want to think about why she needs to be at the reunion when she probably will not know people nor understand what is going on.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to PPAspousew

We just returned from a road trip from California to Seattle, and it went reasonably well. We had planned on Amtrak since my wife likes the train. There she has forgotten how to get back to our roomette from the toilet, but it is simpler on the lower level (4 roomettes, short hall, and she would not remember the stairs). Yet the train was cancelled because of the Delta forest fire, so we had to cancel or drive; then I-5 was closed, causing a 6 1/2 hour tedious detour. She didn't know where we were going, but she seemed to enjoy it. She is able to go the restroom alone as long as I am there when she comes out. She doesn't know that we are married (57 years) but thinks I am a nice friend, generally trusts me and lets me guide and care for her. She doesn't wander off (except for once) and behaves while in public. She enjoys going places with me.

So you would have to judge how she would do. Also, you would have to accept that you may have to cancel the trip part way there and return home.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Lewis22

In my opinion, the car trip idea is much better than flying but it won't likely be easy or relaxing for either of you and there are a lot of challenges when traveling alone that could be lessened by having another person along. Do you have a third person to either provide respite care for her at home or to go with you to help with care along the road? Hotel rooms can be scary because they are new and different. Same for restaurants etc. The biggest challenge you will likely face is not being able to leave her alone for the whole trip. She could wander off or seriously injure herself if she becomes frightened when she's alone. Things to consider if doing this drive alone with her is how you will handle it when you need to get gasoline, go to the bathroom, take a shower and even attend the reunion. You can do things to make the trip easier for her like mapping out your trip in advance based on familiar restaurant chains that are similar in every location, mapping gasoline stops at large truck stops such as Luvs, using a hotel chain that has a set room style so they will be more familiar to her as you go along. Bringing things from home to make her more comfortable will help too. I would hesitate to go it alone, but with a lot of work and planning you can probably pull it off.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to faeriefiles

Is respite care an option? It would allow you to relax and enjoy your time at the reunion, instead of being on high alert the whole time.

I would be concerned about things along the way like restrooms, even if she can manage all that on her own, sometimes the ones at rest stops have more than one door. One opens to the outside, the other to the inside of the building. Not all rest stops have 'family' rooms.

If she is doing okay in her familiar surroundings she may not do as well in strange locations, 6+ hotels/motels is a lot of strange locations. Eating out all the time takes a toll on the healthiest of people, how are you going to make sure her meals are familiar?

If you do go, take a couple things from home that are familiar. Me, I always take my own pillow.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Tothill

Why is air travel out of question - as a former FA I have seen many in worse shape than your wife if she can still walk & talk -

But respite care is probably the best for all - as this would be the last time these people see her so maybe leave their memory of her as they last saw her not the person she is now -

Then arrange for respite care occationally for you to get a break but also you may need to have her go into care full time at some point & this will tell you what sort of care she deals with best - think of it as research for optimizing her when/if the time comes when she is more than you can handle or if your own health issues become more acute & you need time to heal from an illness or accident -

Many caregivers neglect themselves as they are so focused on their LO but you can trip, fall or another car could hit you - by making these arrangements you are being loving in planning for 'what if' - as they say 'hope for the best but plan for the worst'
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to moecam

If you can leave her with someone or somewhere, they do have respite care for overnights. Enjoy the time away by yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Glendaj2

1 2 3