My Great Grandmother is about 80 years old and also happens to suffer from dementia as a result, she often forgets where she is and how she got there. She does not live in an assisted living facility but instead spends her time traveling from state to state and alternating extended stays between one of her eight children. She is in the early stages of her dementia and her temperament is mild, meaning she may not remember where she is but she does remember her children and she mostly remains calm, always assuming she can just “walk” home when she’s ready. I know this to be true as she will often stand up multiple times throughout the evening and say, “okay I’m going to walk home now bye and thank you”.
Keep in mind she took a fall not too long ago and her mobility is very limited, but of course she does not always remember this. She can carry out full conversations although, she will often repeat herself many times asking the same questions over and over again. She spends a lot of her time seemingly confused but overall seems pretty content. She seems to be at ease speaking to anyone around her to ask for clarification however, due to her condition she is not allowed to go anywhere alone. This is why I was very surprised to learn that despite all this, she often flies alone! I immediately thought about how even I, who am in perfectly good health seem to always get lost and somewhat confused while in the airport and I could not imagine how Great Grandmother makes it on to any of her flights. This is when I learned all airpots offer airline escorts which will help transport your elderly loved one straight through the airport and onto their designated flights and then off again once the aircraft has reached its desired destination.
These airline escorts make it possible for even my great grandmother who is in a wheelchair and very forgetful ,to travel all around the U.S . I wanted to share this news with you all in case their are other unknowing individuals like myself ,who were also unaware this service was offered. I was familiar with this service being available to minors traveling alone however, never assumed it extended to the elderly or that it would work for a dementia effected individual. If you have an elderly loved one who may need to travel alone listed below are a couple of different options which may work best you:
- Wheelchair Service Request
If your elderly loved one is also in a wheelchair thanks to the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act, you may request a free wheelchair service for any traveler. To request this service simply call the airline of your choice and and request the service to be added to your flight details. You must arrive early and allow additional time if you wish to travel and transport with your own wheelchair as well. Your loved one will then be met at the airport with a wheelchair and individual to push the wheelchair through security, customs, and onto the aircraft.
2. Accompanied senior option
Most airlines will offer an accompanied senior option similar to the accompanied minor option where a personal escort of the airline will assist your senior throughout the whole travel process. The fees associated with this vary by airline. Simply call your airline provider to discuss your options.
3. Escort Pass
This pass allows you or any other designated individual to transport your loved one to and from their departure gate. You would simply go to the counter at time of check in and present a valid photo I.D upon your escort pass request. These passes are usually free of cost.
Airport travel can be stressful and confusing for many individuals however, depending on certain factors it may be nearly impossible for your senior to travel alone. The above accommodations make it so your senior does not have to take on traveling entirely alone and may make these flights possible for them.
If you or someone you love is interested in learning more about Long Term Care Insurance be sure to visit: LTC TREE for more information.