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Wednesday 30 September 2020

The Top 10 UK Destinations to Take Your Relative Living with Dementia

Dementia Travel Ideas

Travelling with someone with dementia can be difficult, but if you can find the right location and plan ahead, it can be a great experience for them. Find out the best place to go, right here


Having a relative with dementia can be a stressful time; not only do you have to think about making them as comfortable as possible during their life, you might also have to think about becoming a court of protection deputy. So, planning for their passing also has to be on the mind too, which can be upsetting.

If you are appointed as the court of protection deputy, you’ll likely have a very close relationship with your ill family member. In this case, you might be thinking of ways to make the most of being together, whilst making their final months or years as pleasant as possible. Could travel be the answer?

Lots of people think that, once someone has dementia, they are no longer able to travel to new places and experience new things. Depending on what stage of dementia your relative is going through, they can travel as long as they have a caregiver or relative with them. So, to discover whether travel is a good idea for those with the condition, as well as the top 10 UK destinations for travelling with them, you came to the right place.

What is dementia?

Before we get into whether it’s good for people with dementia to travel, let’s talk more about what the condition actually is.

Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline in brain function. People often confuse dementia with Alzheimer’s disease, but the latter is actually a form of dementia. Typical symptoms of dementia are problems with:

Memory loss
Thinking speed
Mental acuity
Language and speaking
Performing daily activities

To expand on these bullet points a bit, people with dementia often lose interest in their usual activities, have trouble managing their behaviour and emotions, and can struggle with social situations leading them to lose interest in relationships and socialising.

They can also have issues remembering people and how to perform activities they’ve undertaken their whole lives. These symptoms usually get worse over time, leading researchers to break the condition into three distinct dementia stages: mild (early-stage); moderate (middle-stage); and severe (late-stage).

Old Couple Kiss

Is Travel Good for Someone with Dementia?

Now that we have an idea of what dementia is, it’s time to decide whether it’s good for people who have the condition to travel or not.

Linda Clare, a professor at the University of Exeter, undertook a study that reviewed 198 other studies on dementia involving more than 37,000 people. The study found that poor mental or physical health - problems such as apathy, agitation, and unmet needs - lead to a poor quality of life for someone with dementia.

Factors that made quality of life better for people with this condition included good relationships, social engagement, good physical and mental health, and high-quality care.

One of the best ways for someone with dementia to engage socially with others, assure that they are being looked after, maintain good relationships and keep physically fit is to travel with a relative. Travel is also one of the best ways to stop people from being apathetic and getting stuck in a rut, whether you have dementia or not.

How to Decide if Your Relative with Dementia Should Travel

The only time travel isn’t a good idea for someone with the condition is if they have progressed to severe, or late-stage, dementia. At this point, the person with the condition will probably fatigue easily and be overwhelmed by daily activities.

Even if your relative’s dementia has only progressed to moderate, it’s important that you honestly evaluate their symptoms before you decide to travel with them. Here’s a list of symptoms that might make you think twice about travelling with them:

Frequent disorientation, confusion, or agitation
Getting anxious or upset in overcrowded or loud environments
Wanting to go home during short outings
Wandering behaviour
Any delusional or paranoid behaviour
Physical or verbal aggression
High risk of falling over
Incontinence issues

Top 10 Destinations for a Relative with Dementia

So, we now know what dementia is, and that it’s good to travel with your relative with dementia as long as their condition is stable. Now it’s time to give you a list of the best destinations for the job.

These destinations are all in the UK, as travelling abroad with a relative who has dementia brings new challenges and should only be considered if their condition is still mild. Lots of these places are available on MindforYou and Dementia Adventure who both specialise in holidays for people with dementia. Let’s take a look…


1. The Cotswolds

This is one of the holiday retreats taken by the Royals, due to its rich history and the fact that it’s been kept in pristine condition since the 18th century.

There are loads of hiking trails you can go on with your relative to get them away from the hustle and bustle. There are also cultural and historical tours that will keep their brain active and give you new things to talk about.

It’s also a good idea to remind your relative with dementia of things they used to like, so if they were into the Royals, take them to the Royal Gardens at Highgrove, or if they were into Ornithology, take them to Birdland!

2. Cornwall

If you’re into places with nice walks and a rich cultural heritage, but you want to take your relative with dementia to the seaside, then Cornwall is a great location.

One thing to remember is that, although it’s good to take your relative somewhere with nice walks to get away from it all, it’s also good for them to have to opportunity to mingle and socialise with new people. Cornwall is a great place to do that. Also, the pasties aren’t half bad there either.

3. Isle of Wight

If you’re looking to get off our landmass and make a break for another island, the Isle of Wight is less than two hours from London on the Isle of Wight ferry.

This is one of the closest island holidays you can take, which is good for someone with dementia who might have difficulty with lengthy travel. You can go fossil hunting, tree climbing, fishing, or visit Monkey Haven if your relative has or had an interest in our simian brothers and sisters.

4. Lake District

If you’re looking to find a place that’s calm, free from other people and distractions, where your relative can take their mind off their condition then the Lake District is perfect. The lakes and forests are perfect for relieving the anxieties that many people with dementia have in crowded spaces. There are loads of lakes to choose from, and I’m sure you’ll find one that has everything you and your relative need.

5. Edinburgh

If you want to go somewhere less serene and more brimming with culture, then Edinburgh might be the place to take your relative with dementia. This is probably one for relatives with mild dementia as the city can be quite busy and loud, which could upset them. In this case, it’s definitely worth it for a cultural visit, with lots of history and things to do along the way.

6. The Highlands

If you’re looking to go to Scotland, either because it has nice memories for your relative or you’re Scottish yourselves, then look no further than The Highlands. This area of Scotland couldn’t be more different than Edinburgh, with its stunning views and feelings of serenity. You could take a trip to the Highland folk museum, go to the Glenlivet whiskey distillery, or have lunch and enjoy the views at Britain’s highest restaurant. 

7. Northumberland

If Scotland is a step too far for you, stopping short in Northumberland for a look at Hadrian’s Wall and visit to Alnwick castle could be just the trick. If your relative is a reader, and loves looking through second-hand book shops, Northumberland boasts the largest second-hand book shop in all of Europe. The books might even trigger some happy memories for your relative with dementia that you can connect with them over.

Norfolk Post Box

8. Norfolk

Norfolk has some of the nicest people in the whole country. Most of the landmass is taken up by farms and open fields, so in the few pockets of actual towns and villages, everyone is open for a chat. This would be a great place to socialise your relative with dementia whilst also having the option to walk three steps and escape any small gatherings you’re attending if need be.

9. North Yorkshire

Speaking of triggering fond memories, there’s no place quite like North Yorkshire for doing so. Taking a boat trip to Whitby Harbour, visiting the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Scarborough Castle or Scarborough Fair with its old-fashioned rides is more than enough fuel to remind an elderly relative of the old days.

10. Maldon Sailing

All the places listed so far have been on land, but for all you seabirds out there, you can go sailing on Essex’s Sunshine Coast. There’s a dementia-friendly trip with Dementia Adventure that will take you to rugged sheltered coves, vast saltmarshes that teem with wildfowl and beautiful sandy beaches. There’s even experienced support on board to help people like your relative who have dementia. 

Should I Take my Relative on a Trip?

In this post, we’ve managed to cover what dementia is, whether it’s a good idea to take your relative with dementia travelling, and where some of the best places are to take them if you decide to go.

As we said earlier in this post, assessing your relative’s level of dementia is key before deciding whether, and where, to take them on holiday. If you decide it’s safe to take them, then pick out the place they would’ve enjoyed most before they developed dementia. That’ll be a great place to start.

Then, think about social activities next. If your relative is still able to socialise well, take them somewhere where you can meet people. But, if they’re the opposite, take them to the Lake District.

Where you go is completely up to you and how you feel your relative can handle it. Thank you for reading this post, and we hope that you are able to take a lovely staycation with your relative soon!

Travel Ideas for People with Dementia

Where would you recommend as a UK trip?

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