My dad has Alzheimer’s and he wants to go see my sister. The problem is that sometimes he is just fine, and sometimes he really has no idea who he is, and he doesn’t recognize the people around him. Unfortunately in order for him to fly to my sister’s place he would have to connect in Dallas. Even though my father can walk just fine, I was thinking of ordering him an airport wheelchair, just so somebody would be with him in case he is having a bad day. My husband says that’s a misuse of services because I would be faking my dad’s disability. The way I see it, he has a disability, just not one that requires a wheelchair. What do you think? Which one of us is right? I truly don’t see any other solution here. What do other people do?
I truly feel for you, and I guarantee that many other people wrestle with this same problem. That said, although you wouldn’t technically be faking your dad’s disability, it would be wrong of you to procure an airport wheelchair under false pretenses.
That’s not to say that if he did have some mobility issues, you shouldn’t get him an airport wheelchair; however you shouldn’t depend on airline personnel to watch out for him. First, it’s not their job, and second, it can be downright dangerous. Just because you get an airport wheelchair, doesn’t mean that the wheelchair pusher will stay with your dad until it’s time to board. In fact, sometimes they are so busy that they leave the passenger at the gate and take the wheelchair with them.
Another issue, is that the airport will be an unfamiliar environment to your father, which may trigger and Alzheimer’s episode. So that’s all the more reason for him not to travel alone.
Unfortunately the only solution I can offer is to either hire an attendant to travel with him, or go with him yourself. If you do hire someone, make sure they are very familiar with your father’s condition, and that they know what to expect. It’s always good to give them a worst case scenario, just in case.
On the plus side, perhaps it will be nice to have all three of you together. You never know, it could trigger some memories.