Elder couple in airport traveling with Dementia

Can Travel Really Count as Therapy for Dementia? Yes, It Can | Trumbull Elder Law Attorney

  • By Franklin Drazen
  • |
  • Posted October 14, 2022

Many people enjoy traveling for the sense of adventure, change in perspective, and sensory stimulation it can provide. These things are what help people feel so refreshed after returning from a vacation away from home. New research that appears in Tourism Management suggests that traveling may also provide benefits for the mental well-being of people who have dementia.

Travel and Brain Health

The authors of the recent study propose that “travel therapy” might make a positive impact on dementia patients in the following ways:

  • Mental and sensory stimulation - Traveling to unfamiliar places stimulates new thoughts and knowledge. It also provides an opportunity for people with dementia to have new sensory experiences. Both of these phenomena may have benefits for the behavior and well-being of dementia patients.
  • Physical exercise - Travel requires physical movement. Engaging with bodily activities that stimulate muscles and motor neurons can help people with dementia feel more connected to themselves.
  • Reminiscence - Tourism can help refresh old memories for people who have dementia. Discussing and reminiscing about past events and experiences can help bring them to life in exciting ways.
  • Social interaction - Being in a new environment with the opportunity to have more social interactions can serve as a way of stimulating brain function for dementia patients.

Because of the potential benefits, the authors of the study suggest a number of ways that aspects of tourism might be employed to help people who have dementia. Among these suggestions are traveling in groups as a way of promoting social interactions, as well as taking trips to locations that offer a high level of sensory stimulation.

Is it Safe to Travel with Someone Who Has Dementia?

If you have a loved one with dementia, safety will undoubtedly be your primary concern. You may have the sense that they are doing well in their established daily routine, but it is certainly reasonable to have reservations about whether removing them from their familiar environment would go smoothly. When someone who has dementia is taken out of their comfort zone, the potential for anxiety, wandering, or even angry outbursts may increase. As such, it is important that you carefully evaluate their symptoms before deciding to take them on a trip with you.

Signs That a Person with Dementia Shouldn’t Travel

If you know that your loved one has any of the following symptoms, it is unlikely that traveling will be safe or enjoyable for them:

  • They are in the later stages of dementia.
  • They are frequently disoriented, confused, or agitated even when they are in familiar places.
  • They exhibit wandering behavior.
  • They have trouble managing incontinence.
  • They are at high risk of falling.
  • They get anxious in busy environments.
  • They have regular or sudden emotional outbursts.
  • They wish to go home while they are on short outings.
  • Their behavior is delusional, paranoid, or inappropriate.
  • They are physically or verbally aggressive.
  • They have unstable medical conditions.

Importantly, a person with dementia should not be permitted to travel on their own. If your loved one is relatively fit and healthy to travel, make sure they are with someone they trust.

Contact a Trumbull Elder Law Attorney

Making decisions about your elderly loved ones is never easy. It can be particularly difficult when they are having serious issues with their memory. Speaking with an experienced Trumbull elder law attorney can provide you with the clarity and support you need so that both you and your loved one can feel more at ease during this challenging period of their life. If you need help getting started, simply contact our office at 203-877-7511 to schedule a consultation.