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Elderly husband with moderate dementia

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Edited by Truluv

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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.

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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.

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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.

Edited by read52

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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.

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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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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.

Edited by zoncom

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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.

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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.:)

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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.:):)

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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?

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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.

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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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......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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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?

 

No, it wouldn't disturb him if I moved in the bed. Yes, any sound would wake him. Now I have a back problem, which causes me pain when sitting, so staying on the balcony is not going to work. Walking and laying down are not a problem though I may have to just stay and he will have a shorter nap, maybe more than one or two.

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No, it wouldn't disturb him if I moved in the bed. Yes, any sound would wake him. Now I have a back problem, which causes me pain when sitting, so staying on the balcony is not going to work. Walking and laying down are not a problem though I may have to just stay and he will have a shorter nap, maybe more than one or two.

 

I hope everything works out and you both have a great cruise.

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Weston, Long time ago I cruised with my parents.Princess, as I recall. I had not spent much time with them; My Father was in whatever stage of Dementia where they wander. I was unaware of all this. Anyhow, we were napping and he left cabin while we were napping. He got lost and started trying to get in several cabins. Desk called us. If he did this again we would be let off at next port. Just a caution! He lived maybe 20 years subsequently and died of Cancer.

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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.

I would suggest looking into Blount Small Ship Adventures. The ship sails with less than 83 passengers and it is perfect for the elderly. Many cruisers are in their 70's. Very relaxed and casual atmosphere.

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I would suggest looking into Blount Small Ship Adventures. The ship sails with less than 83 passengers and it is perfect for the elderly. Many cruisers are in their 70's. Very relaxed and casual atmosphere.

I'm guessing they live in Weston, Florida which is probably about 10 miles from Port Everglades and about an hour from the Port of Miami. I can't speak for them, but I'm guessing they would like to take a cruise out of a Florida port. Those small ships look interesting, to bad they don't come down here.

Edited by ReneeFLL

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We took my mother on a cruise twice while she was in early stage dementia. She had been on enough cruises that it was still in her memory and she did very well and enjoyed herself very much. I spoke to the people who needed to know, especially our server at dinner. She needed small portions. Being a child of the depression she was raised to "clean her plate" and we learned very quickly that she would eat until she was uncomfortable. Once the portions were downsized she enjoyed her meals very much. We made sure someone was always with her. Fortunately Dad enjoyed a nap too, so he was usually happy to stay with her if she needed a sleep. (Not sure if it would help your situation, but I wonder about a baby monitor for your father? There are kinds with a camera that you can watch the sleeping person. I don't know if it would work through the steel interior of the ship... perhaps some young parents can let you know if baby monitors work on board.)

 

I don't think I would do a cruise with a dementia patient if I were on my own. I have a friend in my Alzheimer's support group, she took her husband on a cruise and she herself took sick and needed to be hospitalized. It was very scary and difficult for her to get help for her husband when she herself was sick. If you have a little team ready for the task, I say do it! I'm glad for the happy memories of the last 2 cruises with my Mom.

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I'm glad I found this thread, my husband has had alzheimer's for about 8 - 10 years, official diagnosis came about 7 years ago (he is 67 now), and while he isn't really bad yet, he is worse and I don't leave him alone anymore. We have a cruise booked for Jan 2018, however, I can cancel up until final payment so if he gets a lot worse before then we probably will cancel. I'm trying to work it out for some friends to go with us which would be very helpful. This will be our 5th cruise since he was diagnosed.

 

In all of those cruises we have only had one big issue, I'm a light sleeper but I somehow managed to sleep through him looking for the restroom and going out into the hall instead. I didn't know he was gone until I heard him banging on the door. He was wandering the ship at about 3 a.m. in his underwear. Fortunately, we were on the same deck as guest services so they gave him our cabin number and directions he was able to find his way back. I plan to take some type of door alarm on our next cruise.

 

Things I have figured out that help us:

 

No long cruises, we went on a one-way transit through the Panama Canal a few years ago and it was just too much for him.

 

He has anger issues at times, his doctor prescribed tranquilizers and I give him one each morning with his other meds (I may give him 2 each morning while we are cruising), I also give him one if he starts showing some agitation. He also using a sleeping aide to try to keep hallucinations under control (common problem with Alzheimer patients), I use to try to calm him down by telling him that we was dreaming, that just seemed to make him more agitated so I just try to wait him out now. I actually will have our beds separated because he has hurt me while sleeping several times. I started sleeping in one of the guest rooms because of that.

 

We used to love meeting new people in the dining room, however, we now choose a table for two so he is more comfortable.

 

Getting him to dress up is hard, so for the first time, this next cruise we will probably skip elegant nights (probably my biggest sacrifice).

 

He used to like to spend a lot of time in the cabin because he wouldn't give up his tv, he doesn't follow tv well anymore so I should be able to get him out most of the time.

 

Flying is getting harder each time, mostly going through security, so I plan to apply for TSA Pre check which will help tremendously if he doesn't need to take off shoes, belt, and everything out of his pockets. Restroom breaks are another issue, I can wait outside for him but then need to get him settled in a chair and tell him not to move, that has worked to this point but I will be looking for family restrooms if our friends don't join us.

 

I also order for him so I will talk to the waiter the first night also, hope we won't run into any problems there.

 

I plan to call Carnival customer service and see if they have any helpful suggestions. I like the idea of putting our cabin number in his pocket (he won't wear a lanyard) so will plan to do that.

 

I would love it if I could find a gps location system that would work on a ship but haven't found anything, can't imagine they have anything that would show the different decks.

 

Fortunately, he doesn't panic if we get separated, however, I do. He seems to think he is fine.

 

Hopefully this information may help other cruisers dealing with dementia patients.

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2018 is way far into the future and as you say you can cancel up to time of final payment. It sounds nice but you must be realistic, if you want to do final cruise with your husband, I'd try to do it now - your chances of doing it is now rather than later. Bless your heart for caring and loving him. I know it must be difficult at times.

 

 

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2018 is way far into the future and as you say you can cancel up to time of final payment. It sounds nice but you must be realistic, if you want to do final cruise with your husband, I'd try to do it now - your chances of doing it is now rather than later. Bless your heart for caring and loving him. I know it must be difficult at times.

 

 

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We take a nice trip about once (sometimes twice) a year plus we have annual passes for Disneyland and go there several times a year. We have an Orlando trip planned for this coming December (we will be with family) so January 2018 is about right for the next trip.

 

I know the time will come when we will need to give these trips up, however, he has progressed fairly slowly to this point and I want for us to enjoy our retirement and the time we have left together as much as possible.

 

He still gets excited (even though he soon forgets) when I tell him we are taking a trip.

 

Our vacations are different than they use to be, however, they are still enjoyable just a little more work for me.

 

I appreciate your concern and your input.

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There is often one event that is "the tipping point" with Alzheimer's patients. It is the one that teaches you that trips and "new experiences" are not a good idea. My mother's came when she was taken on a simple boat ride with four family members taking care of her. She flipped out in a huge meltdown in the ladies' room when both my sister-in-law and I were tending her.

 

The problem is that your loved one has to go through this drama before you realize that new experiences are counterproductive. Somewhere around or after midstage Alzheimer's, you will see this happening.

 

As long as you are willing to sacrifice your cruise to the care and well being of the person, it is likely a good idea to go if the patient is enthusiastic and still in a calm mode.

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I hope this isn't too late to be helpful. My mom is 86 and my dad is 88. He has had Alzheimers for about for about 6 years and in that time they have taken about 5 cruises a year. (They have close to 90 overall and are usually the most traveled people on their cruise)

 

Some things that have worked for them - My mom gets up early and goes to the gym and has breakfast, then she goes and gets my dad up and takes him to breakfast. They sometimes do activities together and sometimes my dad sits in the international cafe (they always go on Princess) with a coffee and looks out the window and waits for my mom.

 

They always get a cabin in the same place on the ship, no matter what ship they are on they are on Plaza level right by the international cafe. That makes it easier for my dad to find his way back because it's always the same. And she always puts the same red bow on the door so he knows what to look for.

 

My mom is very social and meets people at breakfast and lunch and activities. They always have a table for 2 at dinner because it would be too difficult with other people. My dad has eating issues so my mom always orders pasta along with whatever else she gets for him because he'll always eat that. One reason my mom wants to keep cruising is because he eats a lot.

 

And they have done 7, 10, and 15 day cruises. I wouldn't necessarily rule out a long cruise.

 

He has gotten lost a couple of times and every time they cruise my mom says it may be the last. But they just got off one in November and have one booked for January.

 

Hope this can help someone. And there will most likely be other people with dementia on the cruise.

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I hope this isn't too late to be helpful. My mom is 86 and my dad is 88. He has had Alzheimers for about for about 6 years and in that time they have taken about 5 cruises a year. (They have close to 90 overall and are usually the most traveled people on their cruise)

 

 

 

Some things that have worked for them - My mom gets up early and goes to the gym and has breakfast, then she goes and gets my dad up and takes him to breakfast. They sometimes do activities together and sometimes my dad sits in the international cafe (they always go on Princess) with a coffee and looks out the window and waits for my mom.

 

 

 

They always get a cabin in the same place on the ship, no matter what ship they are on they are on Plaza level right by the international cafe. That makes it easier for my dad to find his way back because it's always the same. And she always puts the same red bow on the door so he knows what to look for.

 

 

 

My mom is very social and meets people at breakfast and lunch and activities. They always have a table for 2 at dinner because it would be too difficult with other people. My dad has eating issues so my mom always orders pasta along with whatever else she gets for him because he'll always eat that. One reason my mom wants to keep cruising is because he eats a lot.

 

 

 

And they have done 7, 10, and 15 day cruises. I wouldn't necessarily rule out a long cruise.

 

 

 

He has gotten lost a couple of times and every time they cruise my mom says it may be the last. But they just got off one in November and have one booked for January.

 

 

 

Hope this can help someone. And there will most likely be other people with dementia on the cruise.

 

 

I'm appalled that you think this is safe for either of your parents at their age and with YOUR description of the stage of your Dads condition. I'm going to just leave it at that....

 

 

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Bless your sweet heart - as long as you can manage and feel good about it - do it - you know best. [emoji177][emoji177]

 

 

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Jvillegal- you may be appalled but this works for them. I was only trying to help other people. My dad has mild dementia, I don't know what gave you the idea that i described him as bad as you think. He looks forward for months for each cruise. And why would you think that an 86 year old mentally sharp, incredibly physically fit woman shouldn't be on a cruise? If this is something you would never do that's your choice. Please don't judge my parents, especially based on the little bit of information I gave.

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Jvillegal- you may be appalled but this works for them. I was only trying to help other people. My dad has mild dementia, I don't know what gave you the idea that i described him as bad as you think. He looks forward for months for each cruise. And why would you think that an 86 year old mentally sharp, incredibly physically fit woman shouldn't be on a cruise? If this is something you would never do that's your choice. Please don't judge my parents, especially based on the little bit of information I gave.

 

It's not the age that alarmed me.

(MIL is 96, and if she hadn't just recently started using a walker and had balance problems leading to a couple of falls, we'd consider asking her to accompany us. Travel insurance would probably cost a fortune, however!)

 

It's where you wrote that he actually got lost a few times.

That is troublesome.

 

My father had dementia at the end.

We *never* left him alone. DH would accompany him to the rest room when we went out somewhere.

 

And the door was locked in a slightly tricky way at home, when my mother was there alone with him and needed to sleep.

 

It's a very sad situation, but a bit odd.

He was the only family member who wasn't aware there was a problem...

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I am dealing with these issues with my parents and while my mom believes (in her mind) she is fully capable of being the caregiver to a spouse with increasing dementia it's just too much.

I know you believe your parents can do this but "I am there and doing exactly this" it's not safe. Your folks need help onboard with them and I strongly urge you to remove the emotion and take a long hard look at the safety of them traveling alone.

These are hard issues for families to deal with....

 

Please know I am not judging anyone, I am very concerned.

 

 

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Edited by JVilleGal

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Weston Gal - My thoughts are with you while you plan for a cruise with your husband. I was the primary caregiver for my father who had rapid Alzheimer's progression. From the time of his diagnosis at age 86 to death was less than 2 years.

 

I am sure you, your son and doctor may be the best to judge how to or if you choose to go on a cruise. Each patient suffers this terrible disease in a different way.

 

I took my father on a couple trips and did have to keep a constant eye on him. He was like a kid and when he saw something he found interesting would forget where he was going and just wander off. It is a lot of hard work but with the support of you son I am sure you could have a wonderful vacation on a cruise and find enough time to relax yourself.

 

One thought would be consider getting a suite where you have a separate living room and bedroom (e.g. Celebrity Suite). He can nap and whoever is watch him can relax in the living room.

 

Trust you own instinct as you know him better than all of us.

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I wonder how the trip went. My experience with my Mom was not good. Whenever we took her out of her routine she experienced stress and did not do well at all. My sister got her to pay for an Alaskan cruise. Mom locked herself in the cabin and was off-boarded 2 days later. It was really sad.

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I used to work in the field of geriatric mental health. Taking a person with dementia out of their familiar surroundings can be very disorienting for the person. New information is challenging for a person with dementia to absorb and utilize so being on a cruise ship will present with all sorts of new information and stimulation. Even with support from family or caregivers it might become overwhelming for the person to face new surroundings, new situations, unfamiliar people and noise, etc..

 

 

My mom had dementia and while I might have wanted to give her the best experiences in the last years of life I had to reflect on whether it was about what I was seeking (as a good son and caregiver) or was it what she wanted for herself. As her illness progressed she was more and more content with what was familiar and routine and even going out to a restaurant lost interest to her.

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I used to work in the field of geriatric mental health. Taking a person with dementia out of their familiar surroundings can be very disorienting for the person. New information is challenging for a person with dementia to absorb and utilize so being on a cruise ship will present with all sorts of new information and stimulation. Even with support from family or caregivers it might become overwhelming for the person to face new surroundings, new situations, unfamiliar people and noise, etc..

 

 

My mom had dementia and while I might have wanted to give her the best experiences in the last years of life I had to reflect on whether it was about what I was seeking (as a good son and caregiver) or was it what she wanted for herself. As her illness progressed she was more and more content with what was familiar and routine and even going out to a restaurant lost interest to her.

 

This thread is over 2 yrs (May 2016) when the OP posted this.

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