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My step-mom is supposed to fly from Arizona to Boston in ~3 weeks time. I don't think there's any way she could or should be doing this without a companion. My father isn't allowed to fly that far and will not be traveling with her. I thinks it's an insane idea but dad isn't listening to me. Part of his denial process at this stage of her disease. Does anyone know if the airlines have rules about people with dementia flying solo? I suggested he talk this over with her physician, but that was also shot down. She's incontinent and starting to wander. I'm envisioning a news story about a flight diverted because of an elderly confused passenger. Any thoughts?

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It IS insane. Does your dad have dementia too?

Who is she visiting in Boston? Are they aware of her condition? Perhaps the invitation could be rescinded.

I think I would alert mom's doctor with a certified letter followed up by a phone call.

Has the ticket been purchased? I would call the customer service line and talk to a representative of the airline.
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alz.org/documents/centralcoast/Safety_24_Traveling_with_Dementia.pdf

Something to show your dad.
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Oh my goodness that is really scary. Can you imagine how scared she's going to be in the airport? This makes me want to cry. Please, cancel her flight. Make up any excuse. She can not go alone.
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Thanks for the information. I'll snail mail it to my dad. No, he doesn't have dementia and is quite active. He's always been a caregiver type and I think he believes he can see this through to the end, with little assistance from others. I've tried to be firm in my approach with him but I don't seem to be getting anywhere.
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Keep us posted. We learn from each other!
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Yes keep us posted before we read it in the newspaper
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BandNerdsMom, may I ask if your Step-Mom has been a frequent flier, and flying on her own on many times over?

I know a woman who has some type of dementia but she will book flights to visit friends who live in far off lands, and fly back and forth in the States to visit her son's family with no problems. Her husband never goes with her. For some reason, I think because she has flown so much, that her mind is able to still understand the process.

Thus, if Step-Mom is not a regular frequent flier, this isn't a good idea. Chances are she wouldn't even get past the TSA by her refusing to cooperate.
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My mom will be 83 yo this year. She has traveled alone three times already to spend time with my sister then return to the USA. We have had no problem with the airline we use so far. We explain to the airline that she is traveling alone. The airline requested my phone and address as well as my sisters as well as emai address. When we arrive at the airport she is placed in a wheel chair. So far so good. She is not totally gone. She still recognizes us, and can use the bathroom on her own when she is home. When she will travel, i do not allow her to drink anything from the previous evening to lessen her chances of having to go to the bathroom while on the plane.
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Sorry. Forgot to mention that she was diagnosed with Alzheimer.
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My mom will be 83 yo this year. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer.  She has traveled alone three times already to spend time with my sister then return to the USA. We have had no problem with the airline we use so far. We explain to the airline that she is traveling alone. The airline requested my phone and address as well as my sisters as well as email address. When we arrive at the airport, she is placed in a wheel chair. So far so good. She is not totally gone. She still recognizes us, and can use the bathroom on her own when she is home. When she will travel, i do not allow her to drink anything from the previous evening to lessen her chances of having to go to the bathroom while on the plane.
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Celmira; It's wonderful that your mom can still travel!

Please note that the OP says that her step-mom is incontinent and is starting to wander. I think that the poor woman is a bit further down the path that your own dear mom.

I recall that my ex's elderly great aunt was still flying coast to coast in her 90's with some sort of significant congitive impairment. She was fine.....until she wasn't.

She left her purse (passport, etc) at her home airport, SFO and was totally confused and agitated when she got to JFK. Son and DIL then had to fly across the country to accompany her home.

As long as there is family that can drop everything and clean up the mess, it might not be so bad. But the OP's dad CAN'T fly. So who is going to have to ride to the rescue?
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I suppose it depends a lot on your Step-Mom and how far advanced the disease is, but my Mum has quite mild dementia and I don't let her get the bus into town on her own any more! There's no way I'd let her fly or catch a train by herself.
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No, just do not let this happen! Even if early stages it is taking a chance on anything happening. Call her doc let doc know the plan, ask doc to chat with dad. JUST NO!
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Absolutely not!! Even if the airlines were ok with this, its yours stepmoms life you’re dealing with. My husband had early onset Dementia at 53. He was still walking but got confused as well. And incontinent as well?? No way. I took him on an airplane ride because he desperately wanted to see this elderly aunt in another state. He had to use the restroom in the airport so i showed him where it was and waited at the end of the corridor. After 10 minutes I had to ask someone to go look for him. Thankfully, he found him but when we were in the air, an hour later, he had to use the rest room again!! I went to help him and the stewardess insisted I return to my seat. I tried to explain his medical condition and she said she would assist him and firmly sent me back to my seat! I did but of course watched the door like an eagle. I finally see it open and I ran to see how things were (was he zipped up, etc.) and when I got there I saw that he had SPRAYED THE ENTIRE ROOM!! OMG! What a mess! I tried to clean it the best I could but was interrupted to return to my seat. I was so annoyed, I did and when I got to my seat. I sat just in time to see the poor pilot use the toilet! That stewardess should have been fired but when you are attending a person, they are your first priority. They get very confused in unfamiliar surroundings which makes matters so much worse. For Gods’ sake, do not allow this to happen unless she has a competent companion that knows how to deal with Alzheimer’s patients. Being stubborn is one thing. Being reckless is another. You are dealing with lots of unknowns- an airport, security, lots of unfamiliar faces, the ride itself and then the reverse. I can not imagine why anyone would allow such a thing. Please help her...
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She may or may not be able to handle this. We really don't know. Instead of cancelling her flight (behind her back?) as someone suggested, a family member (not your dad, obviously) should simply go with her if it's such a concern.
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Does your Dad need respite? This may be his way of getting it.
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Please look up here, on this site, the many many stories about 'airline travel with the incontinent dementia sufferer'. The stories will make your hair curl. Print them out and show THEM to your father. Sending your mother on a plane alone will be a real fustercluck. So many things can go wrong. Do you expect the airline to 'take care of everything'? No. Bad bad idea. Tell Mr. Helpful Dad he has to go with her.
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Bad Plan, VERY bad plan! My experience with mom (Stage 6) is that stressful situations can increase the level of confusion and bizarre behavior on a monumental scale. Would dad be willing to pay for you or someone else to travel as her companion? How importanat is this trip to her? I recently went on an 8 day road trip with mom to visit relatives in another state. It was very hard on her. Routine is very important to Alz patients and travel is anything but routine. I'm guessing the airline would decline to take her if they knew. Check with their customer service department and they should be able to direct you to the best person to speak with. My dad (before he passed in December) also didn't recognize moms decline. He would let her make serious decisions that she was not equipped to make. My heart goes out to you.
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If there is no way anyone can accompany her on this trip and the trip can not be canceled without it costing an arm and a leg (you know they charge for everything)Most airlines have a program where a staff person has to accompany a minor that is flying alone maybe they would do that for the adult that has disabilities. Obviously no personal care would be done but getting safely from point A to B might be enough. (although if they rerouted a few dogs over 3000 miles no telling what might happen)
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Losing dogs in kennels labeled with destination are still lost. What about hiring appropriate care to travel with her, deliver her, return. Then the same thing for the return flight. If you find someone appropriate there use the same person for the return. No matter the way you look at it, it is a round trip times three.
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If she has been diagnosed with Alzheimers', has neuropsych testing been done? If not, get the doctor to recommend that and take her to a memory care center for that testing. It will produce a report that documents exactly what types of issues she has with brain function and also will produce a list of recommendations that should be followed. So for example, it might state the person cannot live alone, should not travel alone, need medication management etc. This will hopefully be more respected by your father. He is in denial that he has a wife with dementia. If she is incontinent, she will be sitting in liquid or worse on the plane; how is that a good idea? This really should be stopped. you mention she is your step-mother. Does she have children of her own you can discuss this with?
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Aside from any travel plans, your step-mom should wear some type of ID (a bracelet?) and carry a mobile phone with an ICE (in case of emergency) programmed into it.
She should wear an adult diaper and carry a spare, even for a trip near home. Do not restrict liquids too much since dehydration is dangerous. Perhaps omit caffeine and soda. I agree that solo air travel is a bad idea.
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Don't let her go. Boston airport is very very busy and confusing for a person in their right mind. It is reckless to send a person like that without a family member. Don't let her go.
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OMG, no way should an incontinent person with Alzheimer’s do anything alone! Unless the toileting issue was due to a medical problem prior to having Alzheimer’s, that means she’s in the later stages of the disease where some folks are in memory care facilities due to all the unpredictable issues that go with dementias. If she even could navigate through the airport, find the right gate, go through security and get on a the plane without a problem, there’s still the actual plane ride to contend with which includes the health and safety of the other people on the flight. Aside from all the stress and confusion the flight would cause your stepmom, who very well may “think” she would be fine, the other passengers on the plane would be trapped and be a captive audience with whatever event transpired. I would think( definately do not know) that your dad may even be open to lawsuits being her caregiver and allowing her to be a danger to herself and others. Just way too many things could go wrong, definately a horrible idea no matter how stubborn or how far in denial your dad and step mom may still be with regards to her having Alzheimer’s .
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If she can’t go w someone then cancel. Airline won’t be held responsible when she gets lost or help when she has bowel accident
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Another person brought up lawsuits against the caregiver...yes that can happen too. I didn’t even think of that. I don’t think pilot will allow her to board and fly even though airlines may be uninformed about dementia/Alzheimer’s. She can start screaming uncontrollably too...OMG it would be a disaster
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The answer to this has so much to do with variables we just don't know about. The first most important variable being how far along she is in her Alzheimer journey and how accustomed to flying she is. If she was a flight attendant, flew regularly for business for instance or has made this trip to see her family regularly and often for years it might be doable, with some careful planning and help. However if she gets anxious, agitated or otherwise lost in her head when there is any deviation from routine, she is dealing with new people or something simply doesn't go the way she thinks it should....How she deals with day to day life is of course a big factor here. While I wholeheartedly agree (and sounds like you do too) the best set up would be for someone she knows and trusts to travel with her, it doesn't sound like this is an option. So my next question would be is it a direct flight? I believe there are direct flights from PHX - BOS and providing the above considerations indicate it might be doable I would guess you could arrange the same sort of thing with the airline that can be arranged for an unaccompanied minor. A wheelchair as someone else suggested and clearance for you dad or whomever to push her to the gate (airline can provide a special credential so he can go through Security without an actual boarding pass) where a gate agent would take over and get her on the plane. The flight staff would be aware of her circumstances and be especially attentive and then on the other end whoever is meeting her might be allowed to wait at the gate but in BOS my guess is staff would accompany her from the plane to (probably send a cart and a wheelchair) the baggage area where there would be a meeting place set up for whatever family is meeting her on the other end. Again so many variables we don't have answers to but if you aren't concerned about her behavior or ability to understand and look forward to what is happening a direct flight could work. I would suggest she carry with her or attached to her somehow a note explaining the basic situation with contact info in case something does go awry, perhaps attach one of those Tiles that allows you to track things or a watch designed for elders and children that accomplishes the same thing even if she is good about keeping her phone with her but those are just other covering all your bases ideas not really part of the answer to your question.

If on the other hand the considerations above scream this is a very bad idea and there isn't anything that might make it ok I think I would caution against doing or saying things that might come across as forcing your will on your dad. I get he's in denial and I can imagine why if I put myself in his shoes but I fear that if he feels forced or like his authority and reason is being questioned he might dig in harder and you may simply find he puts he on a plane and doesn't share the details with you or something just to prove it's his life, his wife and he knows best. I might try the approach of concern for her. Is the incontinence embarrassing for her (an overnight Depends or one with a pad also will probably be fine for the flight if she isn't able to change them on her own), if she has had episodes of anxiety or high stress brought on by a new situation or when someone isn't understanding her...anything that might occur during this trip... then the concern is a real one that this could occur here and that might not just be awful for her but it might make her more fearful of doing other things, going out in public or even accelerate the disease. What if she were to wander and get lost in totally unfamiliar surroundings, again it would be awful for her and quite possibly dangerous. Is there the possibility she wont be comfortable away from home and with family she isn't used to seeing every day? How dependent has she become on him and has she stayed with someone else recently? Going across country only to find out that doesn't go well for her could be an issue for everyone. I'm just coming up with things that might make for worse than a bad experience for her because we know he cares about her and doesn't want to make things worse. Maybe having the person she is going to see come to her and he can go visit you or something, just to see how that goes would be a good idea before sending her to them? Again, I don't know the circumstance around who she is going to see and where so this may be impossible for some reason but maybe a variation could be found and if you can finagle the conversation so making adjustments or ways to address concerns are your dad's idea (or he thinks they are) all the better!

It sounds like your dad is in good health/mind but something medical prevents him from making that length flight? Is there some way to make that part of the consideration, if she had a horrible episode and Sally can't calm her down or help her the way you do what then since you can't go rescue her/them? "I've just heard these stories that sound horrible and don't want you or Betty to have an experience like some of those", "maybe I'm reading too much but I want to learn as much as I can about her condition and came across travel warnings, you know me I like to plan for contingencies"... You may not be able to persuade him or prevent this too, unfortunately it can be a grey area and there aren't any legal or official ways to stop our elders from making decisions or doing things we know are bad. Even with POA I don't think you would have the authority to prevent them from doing this and you might need to let it go and watch it happen. It's up to you if you are willing to be part of the clean up should it go wrong, though I think a better plan would be to let whoever she is going to see in Boston know about your concerns and any other family, children she has and let them take on the responsibility. You also have to pick your battles, certainly make your reservations known but weigh the pluses and minuses of spending all your influence capital on this or and not having it for the next important thing that will come up. It might be one of those times you need to let them learn hard lessons from their mistakes (or it miraculously goes smoothly) rather than alienate your dad so much he just shuts you down when you suggest letting the pharmacy manage the medications or getting an emergency call button. Good luck, my heart goes out to you. You really are in a tough spot here and maybe more so because she isn't your mother...I can relate to that situation.
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Too too many what ifs. She needs a travel companion unless...
- she is used to flying this route and she knows all the airports like she knows her city. If she can’t go to grocery store on her own, no flying on her own.
Lymie, love love the “unless she was a flight attendant” sentence!
- can answer basic FAQs in detail on who she is and where going
- she can sit in 1 location in a chair or wheelchair for hours and be able to get up without vertigo or numbness in legs/butt.
- she can get dressed and undressed totally on her own, including taking jewelry off & on & do it all efficiently within a couple of minutes
- can follow orders...seat belts, trays, securing carry on’s, giving boarding pass
- can read & understand signs that are 8’-25’ away. The newer digital Arrival/departure boards that flip every few seconds seem to be super challenging to elderly travelers
- she can use cell phone & access text / emails to be aware of gate change
- can toilet, dispose of Depends and wash hands on her own
- knows how to deal with cash
- can read, knit, pray the rosary or whatever to keep her mind occupied so not agitated and anxious.

I fly pretty regularly and it’s basically now like taking a bus with wings. And it’s not a luxury bus with beds, bar and full bath. Flights are packed, folks are rushed, airports crowded. If there’s a problem you have to be able to think & move quickly. Nobody gives a rats butt about that old lady.

My mom flew extensively till her 90s & she had Lewy dementia, so appeared pretty cognitive & competent. Why it worked was that she knew the airports, no change of plane flights, she was totally ambulatory but had wheelchair preordered for all flights (& knew to tip), always did handicap preboarding, no luggage except for her tote bag & small purse, and ok on toileting & she limited fluids. She did crosswords. Family or friends took her to airport & stayed till wheelchair loaded her in. Once she got needing her footed cane for walking she stopped flying. It’s just to frenetic in an airport for solo traveler with a cane that’s elderly.

BandNerds - why can’t your dad understand the situation? He may actually be lots less competent that you realize. Or he has a death wish for her. She needs flight companion & she/dad pay for the companions flight. There’s gonna be someone wanting to go up to Boston, or to Phoenix. Craig’s list always has ride shares posts. It would be super low risk too as they get the ticket only the day of flight at the airport and you have all their info in order to book it.
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I was a Certified Travel Counselor for 37 plus years before I was diagnosed with early onset Dementia/Maybe ALZ just shy of two years ago in my mid 50's. I have literally traveled much of this world and understand the perils of traveling even for someone whose life is not impaired by dementia. I read through the link BarbBrooklyn posted and it is an excellent guide.
I traveled with my family for a Christmas cruise in 2016. This was my most difficult experience traveling since my diagnosis. Thankfully, my DW and two of my three adult children, and our 10 yr old at the time were with me. Remember, I spent my entire adult life traveling and yet, there were many times I was confused, yet aware enough to tell my wife and adult children, they would have to make decisions, I didn't feel as though I'd make the correct decision. Yes, there were times I was plain frightened because I was not familiar with the particular ship we were on or airport we were in. I did insist they get off of the ship and enjoy the ports and I stayed on board enjoying the pool and our huge balcony. I felt perfectly comfortable in the environment of an uncrowded ship.
I pray each day that I don't lose touch with being mentally aware enough to continue telling my family, I need for them to make the decisions for me when I know I need help. Sadly, I know the day will come that I probably will lose that lest vestige of reason and be totally dependent on my family making decisions for me.
Yes, I believe I am smart enough to leave you with this bit of professional advice. I would not allow even someone in the early stages of any dementia to travel on their own. Perhaps approach things with the attitude, lets go on this adventure together and visit Boston, perhaps cruise to Alaska or Hawaii, if at all possible. I know neither of my adult children wish to travel with me again, but they would if I needed them. I was pretty high maintenance on that trip. Don't let a patient with any dementia travel by themselves, you'll regret it and their journey will have serious consequences for all. My Opinion.
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PLEASE REMEMBER !!! She is not alone on that plane. If there is a problem, the flight crew does not have time for a one on one with your Mother. Is it fair to anyone to put that kind of responsibility on them?
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