Travel insurance for Alzheimer’s

Can you get travel insurance for Alzheimer's patients?

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With an ageing population, dementia is becoming a growing health concern, with Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia) affecting over 60,000 New Zealanders and their families.

This guide looks at some of the everyday problems associated with dementia, including travelling with a person suffering from dementia and obtaining travel insurance for Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Compare travel insurance for alzheimer’s

Name Product Medical Cover Cancellation Cover Luggage and Personal Effects Cover Default Excess
Unlimited
$50,000
$5,000
$100
Unlimited
$50,000
$0
$100
No cover
$50,000
$0
$100

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Is it possible to get travel insurance with Alzheimer’s?

Unfortunately, it’s not a clear yes or no answer. Many insurers will flat-out exclude cover for pre-existing mental conditions, including dementia. Others may agree to provide you with travel insurance for Alzheimer’s if you undergo a medical screening.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a New Zealand travel insurance brand that offers travel insurance for Alzheimer’s patients as standard. For those that will consider those suffering with Alzheimer’s, there is no guarantee that you will get cover even if they have accepted someone with the condition previously, as cover is provided on a case-by-case basis.

What documents should you take with you when travelling?

When travelling with dementia or with someone who has Alzheimer’s, it’s important to carry documentation with you in case of an emergency. This should include:

  • Doctor’s name and contact details
  • A list of medications and dosages
  • A list of food or drug allergies (if relevant)
  • Emergency phone numbers such as local police, ambulance and fire department
  • Copies of legal documents such as a will and power of attorney
  • Contact details of friends and family
  • Insurance information, including policy number and insurer’s contact details.

What are the warning signs when travelling?

Travelling can be a disconcerting experience for someone with Alzheimer’s. If any of the following signs are evident in your loved one or travelling companion, you may want to consider cancelling or at least postponing your trip:

  • Disorientation and agitation even in familiar surroundings
  • Wanting to go home even when just on short trips
  • Delusional, paranoid, aggressive or uninhibited behaviour
  • Incontinence problems
  • Unhappy (crying, anxious or withdrawn) in noisy, crowded locations
  • Wandering or behaving in an agitated manner

If some of these behaviours are evident and you aren’t sure whether travel is advisable, you check with your doctor to see if medication might be helpful. You could also take a short preliminary trip to gauge the person’s capacity to handle a longer journey.

What should you do when travelling with someone with dementia?

If you are travelling with someone in the early stages of dementia, whether it’s for a holiday or because you’re relocating, you should plan well ahead. Keep the following tips in mind when travelling by car or by air:

  • When travelling by car, make sure they are comfortable and allow time for rest breaks, especially on long trips
  • Check that their seatbelt is correctly fastened and engage the child safety lock on their door (if available)
  • Help them get in and out of the car, particularly when there is traffic nearby
  • If they are in an agitated state, do not drive with them alone; enlist the help of a third person.
  • When travelling by air, notify the airline ahead of time so that cabin staff can provide extra assistance as needed
  • Book flights with plenty of time in between to avoid rushing them and to allow them to adjust to new time zones
  • Request an aisle seat near the toilets to make bathroom breaks as easy as possible
  • Remember to bring a change of clothes on the plane in case of incontinence
  • If possible, check your luggage right through to the final destination to avoid having to worry about it between flights

Tips for travelling with someone who has dementia

The following general tips are also useful when travelling with someone who has dementia:

  • Get plenty of rest before the trip, because you will be doing everything for two people, which can be very tiring.
  • Make sure the person who has dementia has identification on them, including name tags on their clothing, contact information in their wallet or purse. An identity bracelet is ideal in case you become separated at any stage of the journey.
  • Keep all valuables and important documentation with you, including money, ID, passports and tickets.
  • Carry a list of the required medications and their doctor’s contact details.
  • Bring enough medications for the whole trip, plus extra prescriptions, and keep medications in their original packaging if travelling overseas.
  • Be alert in large toilet blocks with more than one exit and use disabled toilets where available.
  • If wandering is a problem, lock hotel doors with the safety latch and leave the bathroom light on at night.
  • Always turn the shower on for them and adjust the hot water yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
  • Allow plenty of time for everything on your itinerary.

Dementia stats

The statistics on dementia from the 2016 Economic Impact of Dementia report by Deloitte and commissioned by Alzheimers New Zealand, make for alarming reading and show why more needs to be done to find a cure for this debilitating disease:

  • There are over 46.8 million people with dementia worldwide and 131.5 million cases are predicted by the year 2050.
  • There are over 70,000 New Zealanders with dementia, which is predicted to grow to nearly 170,000 by 2050.
  • New Zealand will face an increase close to 300% of people living with dementia by 2050.
  • Women are 30% higher impacted than men suffering from dementia in New Zealand.
  • While dementia is more common after the age of 65, there are about 6,000 New Zealanders with Younger Onset Dementia (dementia under the age of 65), with 1,000 of those people under 60.
  • It is estimated that around 1.2 million people are involved in caring for dementia sufferers worldwide.
  • Alone in 2016, dementia costed the country approximately $1.7 billion annually. This figure is set to jump to over $4.6 billion by 2050.
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