My aunt has severe frontal temporal dementia, Can she go on a cruise if she wanders and doesn't know where she is?

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She gets very anxious. I wish that my cousin and her dad would "see the light" that traveling makes my aunt much much worse. She barricaded herself in the hotel room (earlier this year, during a 3 day, close to home trip.) My uncle and cousin and in denial to a point, and my cousin can not afford this week long vacation without her dad paying. I have tried many times to explain that this idea is not fair to my aunt and bordering on abuse, but what can I do? My uncle wants to spend time with his 6 yr old grandson, but the "cost" to my aunt seems extreme. Is there a way to contact a social worker, quietly?

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I'm confused.

Is the plan for Aunt (who has dementia), her husband, her daughter, and daughter's 6-yo son to go on a cruise together?

If Aunt has stress over traveling, why don't Uncle, Daughter, and Grandson go on a cruise together, and with the money they save by not buying Aunt a cruise ticket, pay for good respite care for her?

Have they discussed their planned trip with her doctor?

My husband and I took two cruises while he had dementia. Many caregivers in my support group have traveled with their demented loved ones -- a few months ago one traveled to Europe (they had other adult family members along who helped with the care.) But it is a highly individual decision. Not everyone who has dementia has to refrain from traveling, but not everyone with dementia can handle it, either.

I don't know what you can do, other than discuss it with your uncle, and raise the option of at-home respite care for Aunt.
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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One more consideration about going on a cruise is that of getting to the embarkation city. If they live close enough that a normal length car ride will be enough, that's good. But likely it'll mean either a plane flight, or a very long drive. I used to drive Mom, and later Dad, to all their appointments. Even with the dementia, these drives were little problem for a long time. But we tried longer (2 and half hour) drives to visit my brothers in another city. With both parents there came a time that had to stop, and with each it was unanticipated. There we were driving 70 miles per hour down I-71 when Mom opens the door. It was a struggle to get that door closed, with much yelling and shouting. Hubby was able to press the "lock all doors and windows" button, but the agitation and struggling continued. With Mom refusing to put his seat belt back on, and demanding to be allowed to get out, trying to reach over from the back seat to grab the wheel and yanking on driver's seat belt, and pulling it across my husband neck . Nearly caused a wreck. And even with that experience, we were surprised when Dad pulled the same stunt just last June. I could have sworn he hadn't gotten that confuse yet. I was wrong, and that was Dad's last ever trip to visit my brother. .....They really need to think this thing through.
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Reply to DoingbestIcan
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Would it be possible for you to go stay with her at her home while they are taking the cruise?
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Reply to xxxxxxxx
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A cruise? Totally out of the question. Dementia patients go into a panic in unfamiliar surroundings, including planes, boats and trains. NO GO. That money would be better spent getting her a sitter at home.
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Reply to pamstegma
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Too young for this, you're absolutely right. Unfortunately when a person or family finds themselves in situations like this, you have to sometimes say "the cruise will have to wait".

I worked for cruise line in their corporate office for over 3 years. I can tell you it was not uncommon to have people taken off a ship due to unruly behavior and barred from returning. Sometimes the cruise line picked up the airfare and sent them home, sometimes they just kicked them off.

In this case they could tell them to disembark and pay the airfare.

One poster said tell the cruise line and they will pay extra attention, that's not how it works. These cruises ships are floating cities with several thousand passengers, they don't have the time to babysit the aunt.

It's not like a flight attendant paying extra attention to a minor child flying alone.

They will not take this risk on a ship.

This is a bad idea, and if the aunt attacks someone the family is liable. They could be looking at being sued and also being booted off the ship.
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Reply to irishboy
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Lalafair, why don't you tell your cousin that if she does not disclose your aunt's diagnosed condition a) to the tour operator and b) to the aunt's travel insurer, then you will. You may find that she, or her father, has in fact done so and nobody has a problem.

This is not a case for anonymous reporting. Reporting what? Do you have access to your aunt's medical records? Do you see her every day, and care for her full-time? Think it through. You ring the cruise manager. And you tell that person… that you know of a party which includes a lady who may not be able to enjoy the tour, and who may pose a danger to herself or other people. How are you going to back up this statement? With what evidence?

Clearly you are losing a lot of sleep over this issue. So constructive suggestions:
1. Call APS and see what they think.
2. If you know your aunt's doctor's contact details, call his office and report that this proposed trip has come to your attention and you wonder if he has been asked to sign off on the travel insurance. Obviously the doctor can't discuss your aunt with you, but if he is seriously concerned there's nothing to stop him raising the issue with his patient - "oh Mrs X, I hear you're going on a little trip…" kind of thing.
And if he's not remotely concerned, then perhaps neither should you be.

When you say your cousin tends to overreact, I'm not sure what you mean. You say you're very close to her and don't want to cause a rift, but how does that sit with wanting to cancel her travel plans and overrule her own assessment of what's good for her mother?

In a close relationship, one person can say candidly to another what is on her mind and expect to be listened to with respect. If you can't do that, you don't have a close relationship.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Offer to watch your Aunt at the price it would have cost to take her on the cruise. These people are being very selfish!!

If they are considering taking her on a cruise I would be questioning all choices they make concerning your Aunts care..
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Reply to assandache7
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Why on earth do they want to take your aunt on a cruise if she has no idea where she is, nor would she remember it?

I agree with Ismiami---If they're insistent on going on a cruise, then either your uncle, cousin or a hired attendant MUST BE WITH HER 24/7. On the trip where she barricaded herself in the hotel room, that only could have happened if she was left alone. A cruise ship is like a floating city that houses about 3,500 people (if not more), with several deck levels. If your aunt got lost, it would be virtually impossible to find out what room she is in & get her back to your uncle. If she walks off the ship when it is docked in port & wanders someplace, the cruise ship isn't going to wait until she is found. They have an itinerary, and waiting for a woman with Alzheimer's that shouldn't have been on a cruise in the first place isn't on it. That cruise ship is going to leave, sail on to the next port, and your uncle, cousin & kid will be left on the island to find her & figure out what they're going to do.

They're "in denial to a point"? It sounds more like they're selfish & don't care. Your cousin (that cannot even afford to go on a cruise) should grow up & start supporting herself instead of relying your uncle to pay her way. It sounds like she is a spoiled brat, most likely made that way by your uncle & aunt. However, as the niece, there is very little you can do about it. If they go on the cruise, come home & tell you about the horrible time they had because your aunt got lost & they couldn't find her, etc., tell them to "talk to the hand" because you don't want to hear it. Maybe they need to hear you say that what they are doing is a very selfish act, and if something happens to her, it's going to be their fault.

Maybe what they need is to go on the cruise & see how it is. They're going to be the ones that have to find her if she gets lost, figure out what to do if she gets hurt or sick, and explain to the authorities why they took a woman with severe Alzheimer's on a cruise & didn't supervise her. Perhaps one experience like that will teach them their lesson.

It's hard to be in the extended family & watch this stuff happen. But, she ultimately is not your responsibility.
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Reply to TooYoungForThis
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Has your aunt's doctor explained to her husband the reality of things? Maybe your uncle has some dementia?
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Reply to cmagnum
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No cruise. She wouldn't get anything out of it. I'll go in her place and you can place her temporarily in a NH.
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Reply to brandywine1949
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