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My partner has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment about a yr. & a half ago, & some days it is worse. She tends to get confused about where she is living & will say things when we are out, like "Do we have any food at that place where we are staying?" We have been living in the same house for about 5 months now. We used to travel occasionally, & I've been wanting to take a trip to see family members, but wonder if staying in motels & with friends & family will intensify her confusion. Also, she was evaluated by an occupational therapist for driving ability & it was strongly recommended that she NOT drive, but she has not accepted that & keeps saying she wants to take the test again.

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My spouse has vascular dementia, we had to travel to another state. He enjoys playing chess and jewels on the computer, so I downloaded them onto my Kendel, he never did notice or care where we were until we stoped. Was saving grace for me the driver.
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I know that this is not the answer anyone wants to hear, but "it depends."

I traveled a lot with my husband in the 9+ years he had Lewy Body Dementia. We slept in an Amtrak sleeper car, in motels, in B &Bs, and in homes of friends and relatives. We went on cruises and road trips and trips by plane. We saw the grand canyon and glacier national park and things much closed to home (Minnesota). All of the trips were very good for him. None of them were a vacation for me. I would do it over again, given the chance.

BUT I know other situations that were not good for the person with dementia and were hell for the caregiver (as opposed to just being exhausting).

I don't think I would travel with my mother who has dementia, because she truly does not seem to enjoy new experiences, she did not travel much when she was well, and her mobility issues greatly intensify the difficulties for her.

Do you think your partner would enjoy the experience of traveling? Does she know and like the people you will be visiting? Are you patient and willing to let the trip revolve around her needs? If you decide to go, I suggest you talk about it a lot beforehand and give her something to look forward to. Take pictures, even of mundane things, and organize the pictures when you return so she will have memories to enjoy. A trip will be hard. Get the most out of it!

Yes, she will probably be more confused if you travel. But will it really be any worse if she is confused about the motel room than when she is confused about your house? Confusion is a common state of mind for her now. I wouldn't let that alone drive decisions.

If you decide this would not be a good experience for her, please take the trip yourself. Find someone to stay with your partner and go on your own. I assume that you are in this for the long haul. You cannot completely give up your own life and pleasures and stay sane. Believe me, she needs a sane caregiver!

The driving issue is one of the most challenging both with normal aging and with dementia. My husband mourned the loss of driving for at least a year. It is a practical and an emotional loss. It is critical that your partner not drive. It is also sad and inconvenient. I don't see any harm in letting her take the test again, but how will she react when she fails it again? Will she accept that gracefully, or will she be devastated? Is it better for her to think "I could drive if they'd only let me" or to know "It is really not safe for me to drive"?

Hang in there! Your partner is very lucky to have someone who cares about what is best for her. And you might not always be able to figure that out in advance, but don't let that stop you from trying. Don't lose sight of your own needs along the way.
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Our experience was that traveling did increase my MIL's confusion. To bring her to Texas we stopped every 90 minutes to "reset" her. Stopping for a fast food hamburger or a WalMart worked for her. They were her favorite places and are similar enough to reorient her. I wonder if you could do something similar, but easier for visiting people- is she a reader or a movie watcher? Those small DVD players could be helpful if she likes movies.

I know others with more experience will have some input for you. For my MIL we had to be careful as she could work herself into a panic attack so the resetting was rather crucial in addition to being soothing.
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