Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Question: I’m having the toughest time getting my mom to leave the house for doctors’ appointments and other trips. What can I do to make this easier?

Answer: For persons with dementia, a trip out of the home environment, whether to a doctor’s appointment or anything else, can lead to confusion and upset.

Your mom, like most persons with dementia, thrives on daily routine—in fact, she depends on it. Efforts that you make to stick to a daily routine pay off in creating a secure framework for her; this will help all-around and especially when it comes to leaving home.

One strategy is to try to schedule a medical appointment for around the same time each visit, and plan a daily trip at around the same time as the medical appointment. This could consist of short walks or going in the car to do a brief errand. On the day of her medical appointment, this, then, will be part of the daily routine.

When it comes to discussion, your mother will need to be led rather than reasoned with. You can lead by telling her what you are both about to do—in a calm, gentle, loving manner.

Rather than asking her questions, such as, “Shall we go to the doctor now?” you will do better with statements like, “Here’s your coat” or “We’re going out now.”

To help you remain calm throughout the excursion, plan ahead. Bring items such as snacks and activities to occupy her. Allow plenty of time. Include another capable adult if possible. Throughout the trip, keep reassuring your mother, and keep making simple gentle statements, such as “I’ll open your door.”

A thoughtful plan and loving manner will help you overcome your mom’s dementia-related resistance to leaving the house for beneficial outings.

For more information, please go to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America website.

Top Tip

Avoid caregiver burnout. Make time for yourself. Join caregiver support groups. Pursue interests beyond your caregiving role, such as exercise, hobbies, journaling and art.

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