All of us at some point in our adult, single or married lives have had to care for or will have to care for an ailing parent or loved one. That extra love and special attention not only extends to everyday life it also extends to any kind of travel. After a heart wrenching tragedy in DC last week we thought we would share a few important travel tips to help care for loved ones with Dementia.
Last week in Washington an 83 year old Grandmother traveling home from Barbados disappeared after she departed her American Airlines flight at Reagan National Airport. The Grandmother was traveling alone and suffered from dementia. Airport security cameras show her leaving the airport. Sadly after several days of searching authorities revealed, she was later found dead, at Gravelly Point park near the airport.
Her family stated they asked the airline for wheel chair assistance upon her arrival in DC. She reportedly never claimed the wheelchair and left the airport alone. From this tragic accident we’ve learned that most airlines do not have an escort policy/program in place for adults, traveling alone with cognitive impairments. Airlines only have escort policies/programs in place for minor children traveling alone. We have a few important travel tips for families caring for loved ones with dementia or other cognitive impairments.
Here are a few travel tips:
- The passenger should always travel with a caregiver.
- Escort the passenger everywhere (6 out of 10 patients with dementia tend to wander).
- Passengers should wear ID bracelets or medic alert bracelets.
- Register the passenger with the ‘Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program’ and Medic Alert.
- If your family member absolutely has to travel alone, please notify the airline staff at the boarding gate and corporate office of the passengers’ situation.
- Family members should be waiting at the arrival gate as soon as the plane arrives and the passenger departs the plane (if traveling alone).
Let’s all be safe and sound when traveling and make sure that our loved ones arrive home safely.
By The Travelin Diva (Kirstin N. Fuller)