This week’s Good News story focuses on a commercial venture that offers a highly-discounted Caribbean cruise for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers. (This is not a commercial for the cruise, rather, it’s a celebration of efforts to lighten the load of those on the dementia path that currently is approaching more than 50 million worldwide.) If you have ever traveled with someone with cognitive impairment, you know first-hand how difficult it can be to keep that someone engaged in activities that meet the impaired person’s needs. I am familiar with family members who have lost their loved one in an airport because of the unpredictability of a person’s behavior. Several years ago I flew in an airplane from Washington’s Dulles International airport to Seattle, seated two rows behind a woman who, quite frankly, should not have been traveling by herself, a person who could not sit still in her airplane seat, roaming down the middle aisle in an attempt to leave the airplane. As stressful as that was for the passengers, that stress doesn’t come close to the anxiety and stress experienced by the traveler who had no understanding of where she was, and no understanding of why she couldn’t simply leave the confines of the tubular travel vehicle. Alzheimer’s “exit-seeking behavior” at 35,000 feet is my October 2012 post that describes this harrowing experience.
But here’s the good news, the above Caribbean cruise – scheduled for April 2019 – is geared to the needs of both the person with dementia and her or his friendly caregiver. The staff and crew are trained to provide an optimal experience for one and all. Times of respite will be offered for the weary caregiver and adult day activities will be offered in abundance for the passenger with early-stage Alzheimer’s or similar dementia.
Now, if that isn’t good news, I don’t know what is.