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Travel for people living with dementia

Guest post by Dr Maria O’Reilly, CQUniversity 1.11.21

As state and international borders begin to re-open across Australia, it is important to consider the challenges and obstacles experienced by people living with dementia when they travel, and determine ways to overcome them.

Research tells us that maintaining an active lifestyle is not only good for our bodies, but also good for our minds and has the potential to slow the progression of dementia. Travelling for leisure is an activity that everyone should be able to enjoy regardless of age and ability.

To date, little attention has been paid to travel for people living with dementia; and how travel experiences can be made more inclusive and accessible to those living with the effects of dementia at all stages. To address this gap, a research project about dementia-inclusive travel is determining ways tourism operators can facilitate dementia friendly holiday experiences, and recommendations to travellers to ensure they get the most from their holidays.

The research will be undertaken by surveying and interviewing people living with dementia and/or their travel companions about a recent holiday, as well as their experiences of travel generally. We will also survey and interview tourism operators to understand the realities (especially as they deal with the impacts of COVID) and their potential for designing and providing dementia-inclusive holiday options. We are working with an advisory panel including consumer advocates and tourism industry representatives, to ensure the needs of people living with dementia are appropriately met.

As Australian travel and tourism industries open following COVID restrictions, there is an opportunity for operators to provide inclusive experiences for everyone and this will improve their competitive advantage. Anyone who has dementia and/or their carers are invited to complete the survey. Tourism operators can also complete the industry survey. Findings of this research will be available in 2022 with the researchers planning to use the results to help inform planning and for tourism industry.

The research team includes multidisciplinary dementia care and tourism researchers from CQUniversity Australia, University of Sydney and the University of Sunshine Coast. The project is being funded by a Dementia Australia Research Foundation/Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration Pilot Grant.

For more information about travel with dementia consider the following resources on the Forward with Dementia website:

You can also download this Travel with Dementia resource by Dementia Australia.