I came across this post on the Remembering4You blog. Ethelle Lord is a Professional Alzheimer’s Coach and founder of Remembering 4 You (pioneering Alzheimer’s coaching by training and certifying people in coaching other professionals or families involved in dementia care). She is also the designer of the Alzheimer’s Friendly Healthcare Workforce™ model of care (a model to shift from a medical model to a care model). I first came to know Ethelle Lord through the International Caregivers Association (ICA). The ICA is a global association that addresses Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias for the people who are living with them and their families and caregivers. The ICA provides resources, including online education, coaching, and support services.
This article is about how people with dementia still enjoy traveling, even for years post-diagnosis. The travel industry needs to accommodate these customers to allow ALL people to safely travel.
Providing services for everyone often includes providing those services for someone who is living with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of all dementias. This phenomenon is becoming more and more challenging. Baby boomers are coming of age, and those over 65 currently represent 18% of the 503 million Europeans, with a predicted increase of over 30% by 2060, according to the European statistical analysis agency Eurostat. These projections mirror ageing population trends of developed nations worldwide.
Airlines do not currently require passengers diagnosed with dementia to travel with a companion. “There are no set rules on customers travelling with dementia as it covers such a wide-spectrum of abilities,” a spokesperson for British Airways told Reduced Mobility Rights. “We will look at individual circumstances, but as a general rule, if an individual can tend to their own needs, respond to commands and does not require a carer in their daily activities, then it is likely that they will be accepted for travel unaccompanied.” (http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20130327298/The-News/flying-with-dementia-growing-challenge-in-aviation-industry.html).
Communities with increased dementia-friendliness will no doubt lead in meeting the needs of those travelling with someone who is living with Alzheimer’s. The aim of the newly launched Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI), a pilot project in the UK, is “…to see how tourism can respond to the needs of people with dementia and their carers and find out if and why they (people with dementias and their families) haven’t been able to access tourist attractions and leisure facilities…hope to increase their use of tourist attractions, accommodation and resorts in the South of England.” This work is the vision of Professor Anthea Innes (see photo), with the cooperation of Professor Stephen Page. Page authored a study entitled “Developing dementia-friendly tourism destinations: An exploratory analysis,” the first study of its kind. He examined the challenges and implications of increased numbers of dementia tourists and how they are providing business opportunities for dementia-friendly destinations for millions of travellers (Journal of Travel Research, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0047287514522881).
More research and education is needed for the travel and hospitality industry workforces. Many of those with dementia diagnoses enjoy travel for several years after their diagnosis. The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to double over the next 30 years.