I am wondering if anyone has the experience of flying an Alzheimer's patient in early advanced stage (early stage 6)? My FIL still knows his son somewhat although he has no idea what our roles are and what we do to help him. Is 2 hours direct flight too much? He forgot all about flying and he is like a boy who is curious about the plane in the sky. Maybe he is afraid. When we say we will fly with him, he is a little reluctant. Maybe he thinks he has to fly it or the plane will drop? We plan to move him in the summer from Chicago to Vermont. The train takes forever with many routes. The drive takes 15 hours and it is no way for my FIL to endure it. He cannot even take 30 minutes drive in a strange place.
Do you think maybe it won't work out? People told us to give him sedative on the trip.
These are really helpful responses! I love the idea of carrying a card to explain to people what is going on. This would even be helpful to people standing in line behind you as you go through security (likely the worst part of the whole business), as then you don't have to talk about the person with Alzheimer's in front of them, but people should be less impatient should there be delays or agitation knowing that there is a health issue. When people don't "look sick," there is less patience.
I agree with what the previous respondents said. Are you flying out of a large or small airport? Smaller airports tend to be a little easier to navigate and aren't as hectic. But if you are flying out of a large airport, I would also suggest that you contact the airport staff to talk about the security screening process (which probably will be discombulating to your father-in-law). Find out whether you and your family can avoid long lines and go through the process quickly.
Also, see if the airport or the airline has an area (such as a chapel) where you and your father-in-law can wait peacefully. Id' also encourage you to check on whether you can get early boarding for the plane. Doing so can help you get seats that provide easy access, allow you to get your father-in-law settled in, and remove the hustle/bustle of the boarding process.
Take care and keep us posted!
Thanks for your reply, Dorian!
I was told by the new home that we need to sit him in the front for early boarding and we need to have 2 people taking him on the plane.
Chicago is a big airport frankly. Last time I flew from Chicago to San Jose, Calif and I took a long walk from this terminal to the other terminal!
I am not sure about Burlington airport and I assume it is smaller.Waiting area is for elite groups and the terminal is closer to the gate. I assume 2 hour flight takes shorter to wait. I also worry about the security check point and the long line...
I began to worry about this flying thing but my husband wants to try it. Maybe another way is to try Chicagoland's nursing home first and move him to Vermont when he becomes sicker or more idle. Many people urged that we do it earlier if we want to do this. What is the point to move an idle elder to another state? But the family needs to be with him when he is idle. Now he can talk and we can use the phone. When he stops talking, we need to touch him often and Chicago is too far for us to do that.
Can you fly out of Chicago Midway rather than O'Hare? I haven't been to Midway, but would assume it would be easier to manuever your father-in-law around that airport than the gigantic O'Hare.
Midway is not too far either but that airport is limited to a few special airlines and does not really fly direct and etc. I checked the website and it shows that Midway cannot fly direct to Burlington and only O'hare can. We will see. Direct flight is still the best one. I think we will call the airline to make sure the terminal is not too far.
Thanks for the suggestion,
If you try it, I'd talk to his doctor about a sedative and a wheelchair. The crowds, noise, security checks and delayed flights make flying unpleasant for many of us these days. It used to be fun, but it's not so easy now. Maybe working with the airline ahead of time would help.
All of your choices are hard, so talking it over with the doctor and being prepared with meds should you need to give him something, seems to make sense.
Good luck, Nina. Your have great instincts. Keep us posted on how this works.
Thanks. Like what I wrote to Dorian below, it is a difficult decision. The thing is no one can predict how my FIL will act. Really. He may want to escape. He wanted to escape in the hospital. When he is defensive, he has his own way and my husband cannot even stop it.
I just realized he didn't like to ride the planes. Will keep you posted.
I've taken my husband to California and had no trouble last year. We went 2 hours early to get through security slowly with no rush. Once on the plane he slept and ate. I carried 2 peanut buttwe sandwhichs and an apple and an orange. We had aisle seats so the bathroom was no problem. We carried on the lugage which I suppose you have to do any way. This way we were together all the time and I did not have to get nervous. Good luck.
i just came back from a trip w/ my mom. i took her to the gate in a wheel chair & waited till she got on board. the airlines new about AD plus she cant breathe so good. brother picked her up @ the gate with wheel chai . rented a wheel chair for 2wks while visiting him then flew up to bring her home. no problems,just same questions over again & she really didnt no how long she was gone. no 2 hours isnt to much....
My husband is in the middle stages of AD. The last time we flew (18 months ago) was hard. The flight itself was fine, about 1 hour 20 minutes. The very difficult part was going through security. They won't let you even stand close to make sure everything goes well. They are responsible for their own ID and ticket. We arrived at a small airport. On the return trip home the security guy was very uninterested in helping us get through. He claimed we had the wrong boarding pass so we had to return to the ticket desk to get different ones. When we got back through the line again we had a problem with my husbands ID. We could not find it. Finally we found it in his pocket, not his wallet. It took me about 15 minutes to solve the problem and when I checked with security to see if they had his ID, they were very unconcerned and not helpful. You can go to the TSA web site to get hints for traveling with your FIL. Good luck. You really need to have 2 people with him so everyone can see that all goes well.
My husband is in the middle stages of AD. We went on a trip this spring and changed planes twice. He only got upset in Memphis as he wanted to go outside and I told him this was not possible. He then pouted like a child, but I bought him a treat and he was fine. I have found security to be very helpful as long as I explain what is wrong with him and I can "translate". I do carry the business cards that say " thank you for your patience, my loved one has Alzheimer's disease" and find them to be very helpful.
My husband gets a window seat, so there is something to look at. I bring snacks and treats and try to be extremely patient. Yes, it is like travelling with a 2 year old, but most of us managed to do that too. Just stay calm and allow people to help you. every airport has wheelchairs, every airline offers assistance but you do need to ask before you go on a trip. Photocopy and laminate his ID and put it on a cord to be worn around his neck. Good luck and happy travels.
Thanks for the tips! It helps a lot.
My husband has moderate Alz. and is partially blind. I travel with him to Florida to visit our daughter and granddaugher at least 4 times a year. It is a 3 hour direct flight. I only problem is going through security as he sometimes get impatient with the security people but I explain before hand to them. I try to make sure he goes to the bathroom before we take off. He sometimes, although rarely, will ask if he can go to bed. He will ask several times where are we going. People are very helpful to us, both the airport people, and the airlines people. I say "go for it".
I've read many of your posts, and I've thought about your question. I'm not sure I'd try flying, but if this is the only alternative you think feasible and if you must move your father-in-law, then my comment will not seem supportive.
The wait in the airport, the scrutiny of the person that takes place now, gawking onlookers, the necessity of standing up for long periods or being in the wheelchair for long periods, the difficulty of handling luggage, the restraints in air travel now, once the plain is boarded - all these things would force me to find an alternative plan.
If I had to travel with my mother that distance, I would want to go by car. The drive is indeed very long, but in a car, if my mother became difficult along the way, I could stop over and take a breather in the trip, maybe find a town where we could stay overnight and watch television. I could listen to music and sing along, perhaps. I'd have greater freedom with her and greater freedom in handling her issues. I might need no drugs for purposes of sedation. All of these things make me think that a car ride would best for my mother. She is at stages 4-5.
I can't imagine trying to handle her and her issues in taking a plane. She used to love to fly, by the way.
I was just wondering. Is this going to be a permanent re-location? Or will you be bringing him back to Chicago after some time? I just wondered, mostly wondering if the trip is essential.
My goodness, you are shouldering a lot, Nina. I hope that whatever decision you make turns out okay for you.
(sheesh - I misspelled plane above!)
Hey, CJ. Join the group! I can delete but not edit, but don't worry. It just makes you human like the rest of us : )
Carol, I think we should all be able to edit/delete our own posts. I am going to make this comment to the producer or maker of the website. Most blogs allow that.
Thanks for the comment. I think you got a point. On the ground, we have many options. In the plane, we are stuck!! My FIL is the one that hates travel, unlike your Mom. Yesterday I was thinking since he is so againgst flying, we may need to drive. Driving in a way is good - you can carry luggages and all that.
Will think about it.
This move would be permanent move so he will live in the East Coast to be closer to us. But we are thinking the flight is the shortest one. A drive for him is no way as he will go crazy thinking we are nuts driving 15 hours. If it does not work out as he may not comply, he may have to stay in Chicagoland's assisted living facility. This way he is too far from us. Once he comes over to Vermont or East Coast, we are not going to fly him back again due to the stree. We will ask the doctor and see. Now we are on the waiting list for the new home.