From the Director of Dementia Adventure

I came across this blog post on the Whose Shoes? blog (a suggested read on personalization in health and social care, by the way). Neil Mapes is the director of Dementia Adventure, which is pretty close to one of my ideas for normalizing dementia in tourism and creating safe places for people with dementia to go with their families on vacations. It’s a good interview with him and about the importance of his company, Dementia Adventure. By the way, Neil, if you are looking for a new colleague, feel free to contact me…… 😉

In the shoes of … Neil Mapes | Director | Dementia Adventure CIC

Happy New Year everybody. #DementiaChallengers are on a roll for 2013, determined to speed up the pace of positive change for people living with dementia and their carers and improve quality of life. And what a refreshing start to the New Year we have here…!

This guest blog is from Neil Mapes, Director of the innovative and award-winning ‘Dementia Adventure’. I am delighted to be able to include this contribution to our ‘in my shoes’ series, looking at dementia from different perspectives. I am a big fan of Neil’s “can do” attitude – it takes a pretty special person to plan sailing holidays for people with dementia in our risk-averse, increasingly litigious ‘elf n’ safety’ society.

We have had over 70 guest posts so far. I have written a couple myself talking about the important role of nature  and specifically the  ‘Let nature feed your senses ‘ project. Neil’s team is making outdoor experiences a reality for more and more people.  I personally feel you do not need mountains of research to know that getting outdoors is GOOD FOR US!

Dementia Adventure is a breath of fresh air for people living with dementia in all senses (literally) – touching, smelling, feeling, tasting and not least hearing the good things that nature has to offer. Most of us take these things for granted – I’d argue that being able to continue going outdoors in later life should be seen as a ‘human right’! 

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Accessible tourism with dementia

Want to take a vacation with someone living with dementia? Great! Here are some tips to help you plan.

This text is from about taking someone with dementia on holiday.

When dementia is first diagnosed it may be important to some people to fulfill lifetime ambitions and visit places they have always wanted to experience. As dementia progresses, however, people usually prefer to travel closer to home to familiar places. Also, coaches and trains can be more enjoyable than long car journeys.

Here are some suggestions of organisations that can help with holidays for people with dementia, and their carers:

  • Vitalise run supported holidays for people with dementia, and their carers at accessible holiday centres, 0845 345 1978, visit
  • Dementia Adventure connects people living with dementia with nature and a sense of adventure. More information available at
  • Tourism For All is the UK’s voice for Accessible Tourism. A national charity, they are dedicated to making tourism welcoming to all

And this list of additional resources was taken from another blog, called Dementia Journeys.

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Do you take dementia on vacation?

This particular topic in dementia care interests me, because sometimes I dream of running a vacation property with cottages, tree, gardens, animals, and where families can safely bring a person with dementia on the family vacation.

There are an increasing number of “sandwich generation” caregivers, typically female family members, who are caring for their children as well as their aging parents. In this light, I would imagine that there will be increasing numbers of families who wish to vacation together and enjoy the good times.

From what I can tell from the market now, is that the main options for families in this position are to:

  1. Put the person with dementia into an institution while the family goes on vacation (many long-term care facilities will take a person with dementia for a week of respite for the caregivers), and will cost an average in the US of $3000 for the week.
  2. Find a caregiver to hire to come on vacation with you to take care of the person with dementia (through a local long-term facility, a caregiver already hired by the family, or a hired caregiver specifically for this vacation). These services might also include the family covering insurance, transportation, and hotel costs for the caregiver in addition to pay, easily totaling thousands of dollars.
  3. Bring the person with dementia with and plan care shifts with the family going along (which will often fall back on to the primary caregiver – so they don’t really get the R&R they need).

So, like I said, I have some dreams and I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts:

  • What did/do you worry about when taking your loved one on vacation?
  • How did you find a way to give care?
  • What are your motivations for taking them on vacation with you?
  • What kind of care services would you expect, if you hired someone to care for your loved one while on vacation?
  • What are the “main things” a hired caregiver could take over or take off your mind, so that you can relax and enjoy yourself?
Sunset on Lake Patagonia at our campsite

Sunset on Lake Patagonia (Arizona) at our campsite