Holiday or Anytime Travel Safety Tips

Travel Tips from the Alzheimer’s Association

Travelling with someone with dementia requires planning to ensure safety, comfort and enjoyment for everyone. travel

Whether taking a short trip to see friends and family or traveling a far distance for vacation, it’s important to consider needs, abilities and preferences.

Here is a list of tips from the Alzheimer’s Association.


Three things I think are important to consider and be aware of:


tsaWhen I traveled by plane with my wife, I made sure to check with a TSA supervisor before going through a checkpoint, telling them my wife had dementia and asking which line would be best to get on. I always found them to be very helpful. In one case a supervisor at JFK walked us to and assisted my wife through the checkpoint. As she did she told me she and her sister took care of their Aunt who had Alzhemier’s, so she understood.

Check out their tips for travelers with medical conditions web page, and call the TSA Cares support line number on that page, I did and found them to be understanding and helpful.


photo_medicalertGet a MedicAlert Safe Return bracelet for both you and the person you are caring for. Once you sign up and provide the medical and contact information, emergency responders can call a 24/7 hotline number to access that information. I got one for myself because if something happened to me, there was no way my wife could communicate in any useful way.

“My companion has FTD” cards

cg-card-2If your loved on begins to behave in a strange or non compliant way toward anyone,  you can hand them the card. I was just told a story of someone travelling with her husband, he would not comply with the the flight attendant’s instructions. Worried the situation could get out of hand she handed the attendant the card and that helped to calm things down. A side benefit was the attendant showed her understanding and empathy by later bringing over a free drink. 🙂

Here is a link to the AFTD site where you can download a PDF and print out your own cards.

Preparing for the holiday season – Plan ahead

This can be an especially tough time of the year when caring for someone with dementia.

Thinking ahead and reading through the tips below may help.

So much depends on the stage of the disease and how the family, friends are reacting to it.

Now that my wife is in the advanced stage and having been through a few holiday seasons, it’s become somewhat easier to plan, but each year is different as the disease and other circumstances evolve.

For Thanksgiving, I’ll celebrate with her at the assisted living facility. They have a special luncheon that day. Then possibly take her to a family celebration, but I’m thinking about the chaos, the kids running around, the activity and how she will react to it. Fortunately, my oldest son has a spacious house, there are places to go to get some quiet time if needed. Plus he is only a 45 min drive from the assisted living facility.

turkHere are some tips from the Alzheimer’s Association –  Holidays and Alzheimer’s Families

To quote from the Alzheimer’s article, “Take a deep breath. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions.” I wish that for you.



FTD Caregiver Support Group meetings this week and weekend

Feel free to contact me if you have questions about these groups.

New York City on Wednesday

Date: Wednesday, November 16, 4:30pm to 5:45pm.

360 LevLocation : CaringKind, (formerly the NYC Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association) 360 Lexington Ave., 3rd Floor, New York, NY. Two blocks from Grand Central Terminal.
Facilitator: Jill Goldman, MS, MPhil, CGC – 212-305-7382 –  RSVP required. Must contact Jill if you are interested in attending. Meets: Twice Monthly, First and Third Wednesday, 4:30pm to 5:45pm

Farmington, Connecticut on Sunday

Date: Sunday, November 20th, 1:00-2:30pm
Location: Arden Courts Memory Care, 45 South Rd, Farmington, CT., a little over an hour from the Norwalk area.
RSVP: to confirm. Sponsored by the CT FTD Foundation.


Arden Courts will provide respite care in a separate room if you bring the person with FTD with you. Just let them know in advance in the RSVP email.

Meetings are the third Sunday of every month at Arden Courts Memory Care, 45 South Rd, Farmington, CT. Time: 1:00pm – 2:30pm. Hosted by the CT FTD Foundation, meetings are free. For more information contact

Journaling – “Just Do It”

not2I wish I had kept a journal right from the beginning.

I did start about three years ago and it’s been helpful in a practical way to be able to look back to see how things have progressed or regressed.

I keep track of behavioral changes, medical changes, reports from MDs, reports from the nurses at assisted living, the days I visited, the activities we did, changes I noticed, good and bad, the special events, family visitors, conversations with the staff, etc. It’s very helpful when talking to medical professionals, both new ones and the ones who have been treating her but not seeing her as frequently as I have.

There is no right or wrong way to do it. To get started, choose a method that works for you. Could be a pen and notebook.


I found at one point that writing an email and sending it to myself was a good way. Then I’d save the emails in a folder.

More recently I’ve have been doing a Word doc, just keep adding to it.

Occasionally I’ve used my iPad, while I’m there visiting, write a note using the Note app and then email it to myself.notes

I don’t focus too much on spelling, grammar or a specific topic – simply let my  thoughts or observations flow. Each entry is about 3 to 5 sentences and is dated.

Some of the literature says journaling is good to relieve caregiver stress, I don’t see it that way. But if it is helpful here is an article about that – Journaling is an effective way to reduce caregiver stress



Geriatric Care Manager – Hire One

It worked for me.

A Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) can help give you direction. They can also work with you on an on-going basis.

I hired one to give me advice. We met twice, about 6 months apart.

I explained my situation, asked about specific needs I had, and then listened to her.

The cost was $125 per hour, but she wasn’t watching the clock. It was well worth it. One thing in particular that she helped me with was finding a home care agency that specialized in a way I didn’t know existed. I was able to find someone who my wife accepted.

BTW, they are now called Aging Life Care Professionals. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers is now the Aging Life Care Association. You can go to their web site to find out more about their services and to search for someone in your area:

If you want to get more insight into my experience, contact me.