How to deal with Alzheimer's husband on a cruise?

I am planning a cruise for 6 days in November. I have six close friends going with us. My issue is as you know Alz people can get upset in unfamiliar situations. How do I keep him calm and hopefully enjoy himself. My doctor said to keep the Ativan handy and make sure he does not get overhausted. I have also gotten us a larger room so he does not feel closed in. On previous cruises he has been confused and kept saying I want to go home after about two days. I cannot go without him as he is very attached to me and I know he feels safe when I am around.

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Top Answer
Sheila,
I cannot imagine taking him on a cruise! If he was uncomfortable two years ago it is likely to be worse now. In my Mom's case tge last time she wasnout of town and it was just one night in a condo shared with other family. Nobody got any rest that night as Mom kept wandering and wanting to go home.

I would find a facility for him to stay so you can enjoy the cruise, and have some respite for yourself.
I had to stop taking trips wiith my ADW.
Traveling requires everyone must understand the individual has Alzheimer's Disease, be aware of the danger because of the Alzheimer's, Confabulation is common. The person will say things to people containing information that is blatantly false, tell of actions that inaccurately describe history, background and present situations. The added danger is the answers are coherent, internally consistent, and appear relatively normal.
Nothing worse than encountering others on a cruise untrained to care for person with Alzheimer's. A serious danger posed by Alzheimer's disease is when the individual turns around, the place they expect to see is gone and they find themselves standing helplessly confused what they see is different and totally unfamiliar to them.

Think of the position you will put the cruise operators in if he gets worse

Welcome to our special place in h*ll.



Some truly hateful statements being made, especially DIRTY, I take my ALZ husband everywhere with me, daily, he loves people, just not too many of them at one time, he's cordial, holds doors open & pushes the grocery cart, and loves to eat out! He's 83 in late stage 6. ....and DAVE "Welcome to our special place in h*ll", you need to love it while it's here, yes we all have to give up many things we planned to do, but it's not his/ her fault that they have this dreaded disease. On cruising SHEILA, we were yearly cruisers, last one in 2011, he was very impatient checking in at the airport, then taking him through the "interrogation" line, would have been a disaster but if you go online to TSA website now you can print out Blue cards that you hand to the first station on check-in and they move you up to the front, also you call their hotline 24 hrs prior to flying to let them know your information, arrival time etc, they will be expecting him. Now do the same with the Cruise Lines, let them know now what your situation is, they must be aware, also have pictures with you that you can give them upon boarding if he does get lost on the ship, I can say it's not going to be a great vacation for either of you, and the Dr saying take extra Ativan, you'll have a sleeper on your hands & spend most of the time in cabin. If you booked an outside be extremely careful with that balcony, one wrong turn looking for the bathroom at night, you are in trouble..Take night lights for the cabin. Large crowds is what will be your downfall, and that's all there is, it's way to confusing. Also if you do some research into taking a trip what the consequences will be when you get back home, it takes all the stamina the one with AD has to try and keep a sort of "normal" appearance, once back home they go ballistic - be prepared. I am like you, I wouldn't go if he wasn't going, you'd really have a ball knowing he was locked up somewhere. My husband is also attached at the hip, doesn't know I'm his wife anymore, but knows my name and depends on me. Good luck with this, but be prepared 24/7. PS if we are at the grocery store within an hour he has to get back home to check on his "girls" - two Cockers!
@Dirtydimensia - your posts are coming across as very negative re ALZ patients. I believe you must be stressed to the max in order to think the way you do. I'm a realist, too, but I try not to sound so negative. Your first post was incredibly rude. And your answers even ruder. For example, 'thank you very much' isn't exactly the nicest thing to add on to a post. I have to ask you why you think dropping your auntie off at the hairdresser is any different from taking her to a mall and forcing her on others? Aren't you 'forcing' her on others getting their hair done, perhaps their time of respite from their caregiving duties? I mean, gees, who on earth would want to sit in the chair next to an person with ALZ! Well, I for one wouldn't care. Just like I wouldn't care if I saw an infirmed person in a mall and/or a cruise for that matter. Perhaps if others saw the elderly and the infirmed more often, they would know they exist.

Your thinking is faulty. While you may not want to see others in public places with this dreadful illness, thankfully, the majority of others don't care. I've had people come up to me and actually huge me, stating how much they care and how they've been through this, and good luck, etc. I've never had anyone say to me "Get that woman out of here, she disgusts me!"....

You need to lighten up. I think you need to take a deep breathe and ask yourself where your hate for the infirmed being in public places comes from.

Think about that and I'd think twice before posting such hateful comments. That is not the way to get help for your own questions.
I've seen over and over families taking their relative with dementia on a 'relaxing' vacation only to discover that it's everything but relaxing.
You're planning a trip that the husband you used to know would have enjoyed. This husband needs routine and security. A cruise is exactly the opposite of that.
As others have advised...call a local AL community and reserve a respite stay for him. Book a few days longer than the cruise so you have a day or so to settle him in there and a day to regroup when you get back. Rather than discuss it (argue) with him, have the doctor 'prescribe' a brief stay for 'rehab'.
Think of your friends who are accompanying you and the other cruise passengers. Your husband is better off at home. You need a break, too. You CAN go without him. He will be fine.
Dirty, WOW! What would you do with them? Lock them up? Throw away the key? Those with dementia need stimulation. And one of the biggest problems with the disease is the lack of understanding and awareness of the profound effects of it.

Though I understand what you are saying, hubby does not belong on this cruise. It would be hard on everybody. Which brings up another question.

Sheila, do you need to board a plane to travel to the departure location? I cannot imagine the frightening possibilities on a plane!

And another of your posts you mention you are awaiting determination on a Medicaid application. Something is not right here.
Did you consider respite care? I am sorry I cannot see how this would be fun for you. Your friends may just go off on their own, after all the are on vacation as well.
I have traveled with my elderly parents, and even cruised with my friend's Very elderly dad, because she could not leave him.....but they did not have AD.
Sorry I think you were trying to hold onto some sense of normalcy in your life. I just do not think this will work out well for you. At the very minimum make sure you have ship health insurance.... You never know what can present.

Best of luck.
My husband is just like yours. He feels safe and comfortable if I am with him. Still I would never attempt to take him on a cruise or any kind of vacation! It is too much work for me to even enjoy the vacation. They do get very confused in a different sleeping environment. Four years ago I took my husband to my daughter's house and he was really feeling lost in that different house. I stopped taking beach vacations two years ago, Now he is in late phase 6 and I can only take him on short outings and our for dinner. That's it. I also take him to Mass every week and even that is beginning to be a challenge. I am not Catholic, but I walk up with him to get the host and I have to turn him around so he goes back to the same seat. I have to tell him to put the host in his mouth. If I don't take him, he misses church and I love that he enjoys something at this point. I agree with others who say find a place to leave him in respite care. I would find it hard to leave my husband too. I would feel GUILTY. Because I know how safe he feels with me around. That one person, dirty dimensia is just awful. I wouldn't want to have that person on my cruise. He would ruin it for everyone. Let's try to be positive on this site!
Sheila, Sounds like you're dealing with an oxymoron to me. On one hand you DON'T want your husband to be agitated without you for 6 days. But on the other hand from your prior experience has proven that your husband DOES get agitated on a cruise. I would be focusing on how to keep him from being in distress and distressing others, rather than forcing a cruise on him. Not fair to him, your friends, passengers who pay good money to have fun & not fair to you. Plus, having so many people shoulder to shoulder for 6 days and knowing someone could pass on the flu or whatever to you or your hubby is scary too. Not worth it in my opinion. Make other arrangements for his care, or just don't go. Sorry.
Unless you are going on a cruise with a group that has informed the cruise line that its members have Alzheimer's then you are putting the cruise line and its passengers in a precarious situation. You are not entitled to increase the risks at sea. I agree with everyone who has urged you to go on the cruise by yourself and leave your husband in a respite care situation. If you have enough money to afford a cruise then you've got enough to do right by your husband. This isn't just about you. You haven't accounted for all the things that can - and often do - go wrong at sea.

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