My mother is 90, has dementia and is now bowel incontinent. How can I prepare her to travel by air?

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Waiting in an airport takes time and the flight is 3 hours. I know an accident will happen but have no idea how we could clean up on an airplane? Obviously she wears depends but those don't work very well with bowel incontinence. They leak. Plus there is the factor of her fellow passengers. Anyway to make this work? Are there any medications that would help?

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I really want to know why oh why would you take a person in this condition on an airplane? What could be so urgent that this seems like a good idea?
My heart rate just went up reading this. I have been the 3rd seat extra passenger with a 90 year lady and her daughter on a plane. I did not know them. Let's just say I donated most of my socks and I size 5 pair of Nikes to the cause. Yep, that's how much poo and throw up there was. The smell was unbearable, everyone wanted Out. The 1 bathroom was in use all the time so that left others in misery. I'm sorry but if you want "An Affair to Remember", this will be it. This is just another perspective from a passenger view. My heart was breaking for them both.
Sandy, someone with dementia will face orientation challenges after the flight; her dementia might cause confusion and she could become very unsettled during and after the flight.

Is there any way you can avoid this flight?
Why are you thinking about taking her on a plane?
Assuming that the journey is absolutely necessary - and I can't imagine that you'd be doing this for the sheer fun of it, so it must be, but I admit I'd love to know why - then you could talk to the airline and see if their planes have any space set aside for medical emergencies and the like that you could use. The airport will have facilities for people with disabilities, which usually have enough space for changing; so do that at the last possible moment. And, obviously, in the days running up to the journey avoid those foods you know produce exciting results - like tomatoes and raisins and so on.

I don't know if something like Immodium or codeine prophylactically might help, but DO NOT do this without first seeking medical approval.

A plane ride that's three hours long may as well be a plane ride that's 30 hours long. My MIL had bowel incontinence and, thankfully, not dementia. Airplane bathrooms are useless for your purposes because your mother cannot use it by herself and there is not room enough for you in there with her. You will need to find and use the handicapped accessible bathrooms both at departure and arrival. Use the airports' wheelchair attendant services because they will know where those bathrooms are. And give them a tip - $5 or so - to let them know that you appreciate their patience.

That said, why is this flight necessary?
What are your reasons for taking her on a plane trip? You'd better have a pretty darn good reasons for doing this... and visiting family, taking a cruise, etc *do not* qualify. You should have planned this sort of trip earlier, when she was healthier. Think about it... what would it be like for someone to have to sit near your mother... It sounds like your mother could give everyone around a flight to remember. Remember that plane bathrooms are *really* tiny and doing a diaper change while flying is going to be a nightmare--and allowing her to sit in it is *really* going to piss everyone off.

Can Amtrak get you there? Yes, it might take a few days by train, each way, to get her to where she's going? Long distance Amtrak have sleeper cars, with rooms / roomettes. Even though these are small, you'll have a bathroom and a place to care for your mother. She'll be able to get up and move around. She'll be able to look out the window and watch the world go by. She'll sleep in a real bed. She won't have to deal with fairly abrupt changes in altitude. Let Amtrak know about her when you book her travel. Also, the train isn't so stressful.

Have you thought about taking your mom to where she's going by car? I can understand why you want to fly (faster, cheaper). However, you have to think about your mother's needs as well as the needs of others. With a car, you are in control of how far you drive, when you stop for a break, what you visit along the way, etc. Your mom won't become a major inconvenience / flash point for others.

IMHO, I think it would be very wrong and rude for you to fly your mother. If it is at all possible to get her to where she needs to be using ground (but not bus) transportation, do it.

If you are worried about her flight accomodations -- then PLEASE DON'T SEND HER ON THE PLANE. Rent an RV, take her by car or train -- but please don't do this. Is there a possibility that a sibling or friend could drive halfway and you meet and exchange mom on the middle to ease the trip for both of you?

I can tell you, if I was a passenger or flight attendant and you sent an elder with dementia and known bowel incontinence on a plane trip -- I"d be livid. Frankly, I'd consider it irresponsible unless all other options have been exhausted.

I'm suspecting that the plane fare for you is less expensive then a car/train -- but please, consider others and the difficult trip this will be for your loved one.
Personally...I would not do this for all the reasons mentioned. Its hard enough changing and cleaning up in their own bathroom let alone in an airport.
We don’t know what the reason is that Sandylaw is taking this trip with her mom. Maybe there is a close relative who is not long for this world and time is of the essence. The reason she’s doing this wasn’ t revealed and it’s actually none of our business. She asked for help getting her mom to their destination, not what we thought about her decision. Sure, we all know this will be a trip from Hell. And she probably does too. I’d hope that all other modes of transportation have been explored and discounted.

The only way this will work is with lots of diapers, pads, underpads and Chux, not to mention Ziploc bags for disposal. People take babies on planes all the time. Hopefully she’d be able to travel first class. Hopefully she will have called the airline previously to make sure she’s bringing what she can.

Let’s just cross our fingers for her and wish her well and not assume the worst as to why she’s doing this. Nothing about caregiving is easy. We all sure know that.

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