Elderly husband with moderate dementia

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#1
florida
142 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
We used to cruise regularly, but now my husband is getting much more forgetful. My son asked us to go on a 4 day Bahamas cruise and I am not sure. He does' wander, but in case we get separated on the ship does anyone have any suggestions. I am not sure if we should go. He loves cruising and he is so happy being out and interacting with other people, I am torn.
#3
florida
107 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by weston gal
We used to cruise regularly, but now my husband is getting much more forgetful. My son asked us to go on a 4 day Bahamas cruise and I am not sure. He does' wander, but in case we get separated on the ship does anyone have any suggestions. I am not sure if we should go. He loves cruising and he is so happy being out and interacting with other people, I am torn.
My husband had dementia when we went on a seven day cruise with family and friends and he did wander if we got separated. May I suggest you stay with your husband as much as possible and maybe have your son look after him too. My husband's brother always went with him to the Men's Room and that worked out well. Go and enjoy as much as you can and remember it's going to make him happy since he loves to cruise, so did my husband.
#4
florida
142 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by cruisetime25
My husband had dementia when we went on a seven day cruise with family and friends and he did wander if we got separated. May I suggest you stay with your husband as much as possible and maybe have your son look after him too. My husband's brother always went with him to the Men's Room and that worked out well. Go and enjoy as much as you can and remember it's going to make him happy since he loves to cruise, so did my husband.
My problem is what to do when he naps. I used to leave him in the cabin and come back in an hour and if he was sleeping come back again. I can stay on the balcony a little while, but it gets too hot and uncomfortable. Otherwise I never leave him. I wait outside bathrooms and if I worry, I stop someone going in or out to check.
#5
Fort Mill, SC
679 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
We also cruised with my husband when he was in the first stages of his early onset Alzheimers. We had cruised about 20 or so times before, since it was a favorite family vacation.

We managed to stay with him at all times, sometimes taking turns (our kids were terrific through their Dad's illness). Some tricks for the cruise: We wrote the cabin number down for him in a few places, so he would always feel independent (wrote it in nail polish on his sign and sale card, and then had his card punched with a lanyard, we wrote it in ink on his wrist, etc.). We also decorated the cabin door, so he would "recognize" our cabin among all the others. My goal was to make him feel confident in his surroundings. I brought a small string of bells on a magnet for the inside of our cabin door and another bell for the balcony door, so I'd hear him if he decided to go somewhere on his own.

One negative was the fact that our waiter just didn't get it. I had told our waiter privately at the beginning of our cruise that my spouse was not well and that I would be ordering for him, but the waiter insisted on trying to get my husband to order from the menu. The more questions he'd try to ask my husband about what he wanted or how he wanted it cooked, the more anxious my husband would become. He was in a stage where he was unable to process speech quickly, and beginning not to understand people (aphasia was one of his earliest symptoms).

My husband got a little stressed by stimulus coming from different directions. Crowds and loud noises made him anxious. We did fine with quiet times, but he'd get stressed in the Windjammer when it was crowded, at the shows or other locations which were very noisy. We still enjoyed the trip, but we sometimes adjusted our activities so he would be more comfortable and relaxed.

I had thought DH was at an early enough stage that he'd enjoy the trip...and he told me that he had no problem with doing his own packing. Neither of us had Alzheimers in the family, so we were learning as we went. Let's just say that I had to find out where there was a Marshall's in Puerto Rico (he didn't pack underwear or shorts). I also learned how to get his PA prescriptions filled in FL. If your spouse packs for himself, check it! And also make sure that you're the one with all the necessary paperwork, credit cards and passports!

I assume that he's not going to be driving to the port. I know you didn't ask this question, but I can't help myself from sharing. DH seemed like a good driver to me. I thought his illness was still so mild that he should be able to drive for awhile, but in our state the neurologist had reported his diagnosis of early dementia to the DOT. DH was sent a notice that his license was being cancelled. We went to a Rehab Hospital that had a program to test medically restricted persons who wanted to keep their drivers' license. It was a real eye opener. At the time, even though DH was at the very beginning of the disease, his brain was already so damaged that their tests showed he couldn't multi-task (for ex., if a child ran into the road while he was driving and another car was veering towards him, his brain couldn't have handled the inputs quickly enough; his judgment was also impaired enough that his automatic reaction was to swerve to miss the obvious threat of another car instead of avoiding the child). He missed 40% of street signs. We had no idea at all, but I share this experience with others. (Not to mention the potential liability of the family for allowing someone with a diagnosis of dementia to drive if that driver is in an accident) Sorry to go off on a tangent, but writing this post brought back a lot of memories of 12 years of caregiving. DH's ashes were buried at sea off Allure of the Seas about 2 years ago, as he had wished - he had really enjoyed our cruise vacations, and every one of them gave us wonderful memories.

Don't forget to take advantage of the ship's photographer to have great pictures of your family to remember the trip!

I hope you have a wonderful time on your cruise.
#6
New York
165 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Just want to say how good of you to offer your experiences and advice. My mom is in the early stages of dementia so I can relate to a lot of things. I was really just searching around cruise critic and came upon this post and although not relevant to me (i.e., I'm not planning a cruise with mom), it certainly offers excellent advice. One thing we do have in common is that I lost my husband on April 2, 2015 (only 62 years old) and he, too, always wanted his ashes scattered from a ship (we met, were engaged and married on cruises) and in July I scattered his ashes in the waters around Bermuda from Volendam. Funny how a vacation choice had permeated our entire lives, up to his death.
#7
Fort Mill, SC
679 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Strawbs1: Yes, we're definitely members of some clubs that we never could have anticipated. Your cruise romance is a wonderful story. My sympathies on the loss of your spouse. I'm glad you're still on CC & cruising. I took my 1st solo cruise last year. Solo cruising wasn't as wonderful as cruising with a spouse or our kids, but it was still a good trip. My 2nd solo is coming up in August, and I know it will trigger lots of memories. Sigh.
#8
Maryland
4,472 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
My husband had viral encephalitis which left him with seizure condition that was not completely controlled by medication. After a seizure a person may not remember who they are. We started to cruise at this time. I got my husband a medic alert bracelet in case we got separated. New ones come with a stick that can hold all their medical history including listing of medications. Although he is 99% better, I am with him at all times or he is with a family member. I like cruising because if he gets tired, we can go back to the room and rest and order room service plus there is a doctor on board if we need one (we have never needed one).

By the way, my mother is in the early stages of dementia but she lives in another state with my sister so I know what some of the challenges are.
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#9
florida
142 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Truluv: Thank you for sharing your experience. My husband is in the moderate stage of dementia. His short memory is very limited, and he has limited walking ability. He hasn't driven in 7 years.

You mentioned having difficulty with the waiter. Thankfully, I usually tell the waiter on the first day about my husbands condition, and there is no problem. At this point in his condition, his tastes have have changed to the point that he mostly wants carbs; no meat, vegetables, just potatoes, bread, and some fruit. (Of course desserts). That is another challenge.
#12
Ottawa Canada
388 Posts
Joined Apr 2016
Originally posted by weston gal
We used to cruise regularly, but now my husband is getting much more forgetful. My son asked us to go on a 4 day Bahamas cruise and I am not sure. He does' wander, but in case we get separated on the ship does anyone have any suggestions. I am not sure if we should go. He loves cruising and he is so happy being out and interacting with other people, I am torn.
Hopefully you have found some good tips. If your son is requesting you go, I assume he is going as well, so perhaps he can do the nap time monitoring.
I am not this situation but appreciate reading the experiences. It sounds like choosing the right ship may also help if your husband is like others and affected by too much noise or stimulus. I would suggest a smaller ship and more sedate cruise line rather than a bells, whistles and water slide line. Ensure the plan is with your husband's comfort in mind - not your son's - despite him encouraging you to participate.
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#13
3,715 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
What ship is your son considering? Most of the short ones are noisy booze cruises for SOFLA locals, especially on weekends. This does not go well with dementia. Find out. I see even Celebrity is doing shorties; maybe abit more sedate on X. For naps, just have beds pulled apart by cabin steward at cruise beginning.
#14
Boynton Beach, Fl
2 Posts
Joined Jun 2016
Originally posted by weston gal
I tried to correct my post to say he DOESN'T wander.
My husband and I love to cruise. We have planned our second trip on the Allure for Oct. 30th. Would like to talk to other seniors in there seventies that will be on that cruise.
#15
Boynton Beach, Fl
2 Posts
Joined Jun 2016
Originally posted by dorawk
My husband and I love to cruise. We have planned our second trip on the Allure for Oct. 30th. Would like to talk to other seniors in there seventies that will be on that cruise.
Love meeting new people.
#16
1,914 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
Originally posted by weston gal
We used to cruise regularly, but now my husband is getting much more forgetful. My son asked us to go on a 4 day Bahamas cruise and I am not sure. He does' wander, but in case we get separated on the ship does anyone have any suggestions. I am not sure if we should go. He loves cruising and he is so happy being out and interacting with other people, I am torn.
You say he loves cruising,is happy being out and interacting with other people.
There is your answer,if you quietly let other people you meet know your situation,they also should keep an eye out for him.(if they are worth anything).
Between yourself and your son,tag teaming should work.Between yourself and your son and others,it should defiantly work.Go,Go,Go on this cruise,and plan many more after it.
#17
florida
142 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by zoncom
What ship is your son considering? Most of the short ones are noisy booze cruises for SOFLA locals, especially on weekends. This does not go well with dementia. Find out. I see even Celebrity is doing shorties; maybe abit more sedate on X. For naps, just have beds pulled apart by cabin steward at cruise beginning.
We are supposed to go on Carnival next month because it was the only time that works for my son's family schedule. We have been okay on Carnival and have been able to avoid any seriously crazy and noisy situations.

I don't understand pulling the beds apart. He would be very upset if I weren't sleeping in the bed with him. What would that do?
#18
florida
142 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by mrs and mrs
You say he loves cruising,is happy being out and interacting with other people.
There is your answer,if you quietly let other people you meet know your situation,they also should keep an eye out for him.(if they are worth anything).
Between yourself and your son,tag teaming should work.Between yourself and your son and others,it should defiantly work.Go,Go,Go on this cruise,and plan many more after it.
Thank you so much for your thoughts. Your words gave me spark of hope that brightened my day. I love seeing him have a good time because most of his days are so gloomy, all he does is eat and sleep, and sometimes watch tv.
#19
Up North
1,069 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Maybe you could talk with TA and see if he can get wrist bracelet similar to little kids-it could have his name, cabin and table #


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#20
Ft. Lauderdale
1,758 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Originally posted by weston gal
......I don't understand pulling the beds apart. He would be very upset if I weren't sleeping in the bed with him. What would that do?
He was referring to nap time. You said you would stay on the balcony or elsewhere while your husband was sleeping. I think he thought that if you had the beds pulled apart that you would not disturb him. Moving around in the same bed will probably affect his nap. Why do you go elsewhere when he is napping? Noise?
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