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Long distance flight dementia patient

Sydney, Australia
posts: 1
Long distance flight dementia patient

My very deaf father in law has booked a 6 weeks holiday from Australia to England and Italy. He is travelling with his wife who has stage 6 dementia. He is not listening to anyone (family, doctors and her Alzheimer carers) regarding the risk of caring for her on this trip- especially with the long flight. Short car trips and overnight stays for my mother in law are very distressing for her. We are worried about him taking her through airport security or if she becomes stressed, angry or aggressive on the flight. We don't know how he will be able to go to the bathroom on the flight and leave her by herself or how she will be able to navigate the toilet by herself. We doubt he will be able to get travel insurance for her. Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated.

Nowy Sacz, Poland
Destination Expert
for Poland
posts: 4,023
reviews: 42
1. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

If this is for real, I'd involve the police and/or get a restraining order.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Atlanta
posts: 9,184
reviews: 74
2. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

I'm sorry for your circumstances. You might also consider alerting the airline, and possibly providing them with a note from her doctor in hopes that they wouldn't let her board, but only you know how that would affect your relationship with your father. I can tell you that family members tried to take my uncle, who was in similar shape, on a much shorter flight and he lost it, having to be subdued and medicated during the flight, then being admitted to the hospital on arrival. They had to extend the trip waiting for him to be released, then had to rent a car to drive back because they didn't believe he could fly.

Another concern is travel insurance. I doubt she would qualify, and if she did need medical care overseas it would be very expensive.

posts: 21,014
reviews: 71
3. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

Oh dear, dealing with aged family members who are in denial, but "used to" having authority over you when you were younger, and will not listen to reason is a total nightmare.

I don't have any solutions, but you do have my every sympathy...

posts: 21,014
reviews: 71
4. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

I don't know the law in Oz, but can your spouse gain power of attourney for the MIL, or can she be made a ward of court??

Thing is, when you HAVE to do that kind of thing, and go against your parents wishes, it is very difficult and gives you a nasty, guilty "sicky" feeling...

Nowy Sacz, Poland
Destination Expert
for Poland
posts: 4,023
reviews: 42
5. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

Seems to me this is the time - past the time - when the children have to become the parents. Your FIL has to be made to understand that what he's proposing is completely unreasonable and that, if such is the case, the family will fight him on it. Seriously. Otherwise, it's too close to kidnap to call.

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
posts: 12,917
reviews: 208
6. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

You are absolutely in a difficult position. Your FIL's plan is certain to create a catastrophe somewhere along the route, and it could be devastating for both of your in-laws. Still, no one seems to be able to convince your FIL that his plan is very foolish.

I can understand your FIL's motivations as I grow older each day, and try to maintain control over my own plans. I have, however, managed a MIL with advanced dementia, and I know that every step will be miserable for your MIL.

You have not mentioned your husband's feelings about this plan, but if you are to prevent your FIL he will have to be involved because likely as the DIL you will have no legal options. I do not know the laws in Australia, but in the US it is likely that your husband would be able to get a power of attorney that would allow him to prohibit this serious mistake.

While not particularly difficult in terms of legal action, this decision can be very unpleasant for your father. It could result in a serious breach in the relationship you currently have with your FIL, and your husband my be hesitant to take such a step.

I think you have some choices. You can let him take MIL, and then be prepared to fly to his rescue and hope the disaster is not serious. You can have a serious talk with him asking him specific questions such as his plans for her using the bathroom, bathing, preventing her from wandering away, managing her emotional needs etc. If you confront him with very specific situations and ask him to problem-solve for them he might recognize that his plan will not work. Failing that tactic you could seek legal assistance to prevent him from taking her. Finally, you and your husband could travel with FIL and MIL to assist MIL on this "vacation".

If you let him go alone you have to recognize that at some point you are going to have to fly to meet him, unless you have family in the UK and Italy who will help. Catching a last minute flight to rush to his rescue will be expensive. You can probably purchase two airfares for what one emergency ticket will cost.

I would have great difficulty taking my father to court to obtain custody of my mother, and I would probably opt for going with my parents rather than alienating my father through legal action. Your final alternative could be to hire a companion who could travel with your FIL and provide assistance to you MIL.

The best option for MIL, and the least expensive option for you is to convince FIL not to make this trip. This would be the course of action I would first recommend.My prayers are with you.

posts: 11,529
reviews: 47
7. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

My question would be 'Why does he want to take her?'

Is he concerned that there's no one else to look after her in his absence? Has respite care been considered (the Government subsidizes up to 42 days respite a year at a very low cost).

She definitely should not travel. She will be at risk, not only on the trip but for the duration of the holiday. No one can look after another person 24/7 - everyone has to sleep. What if she gets up in the night and wanders off in a strange country? Is he planning on taking her into the bathroom and shower with him? - he can't leave her unattended.

If you can't talk your FIL out of this madness then I suggest you discuss it with her doctor and consider going to the Guardianship Board to get legal Guardianship over your MIL. Once you have this then she needs your permission to travel.

As a sole carer of an aged relative myself I know what you are going through. It's hard to become 'the responsible adult' and reverse the roles established over a lifetime, but it sounds like this is what you will have to do.

Good luck and best wishes.

Kent, United Kingdom
posts: 2,010
reviews: 44
8. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

I am very sorry for your dilemma, and have considerable sympathy for the situation you find yourself having to deal with.

I very much doubt that you will find any travel (trip) insurance to cover the lady. Most policies sold in the UK specifically exclude mental health problems, dementia, anxiety, stress, breakdowns etc.

It would be utter folly for this poor elderly lady to travel long haul, especially without insurance. Costs of medical care in Europe can be very high, to say nothing of the cost of getting her back home if she becomes even more ill or disturbed. It would possibly involve a DER ( Doctor Escorted Repatriation) so that she could be medically sedated and monitored in flight, and a DER almost inevitably requires Business Class seats for the patient and the Doctor too.

I can only suggest that you investigate the possibility of having the poor dear placed under some sort of care order to include a prohibition on foreign travel. Can you consult a lawyer?

Sometimes, with sick and elderly parents, you need to go right against their wishes in their own best interests.

I feel for you, I truly do.



9. Re: Long distance flight dementia patient

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