When you think of Alzheimer’s disease, you tend to picture someone approaching 100, probably in a nursing home, unable to remember anything. But Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t start at the end. Geri Taylor has recently reminded us of this, having agreed to have a reporter follow her for 20 months after her initial Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She shares how it was a constant struggle to keep up, even though on the outside – at least for brief periods – it would seem like nothing was wrong.
We instinctively know that Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t start at the end, or even in the middle, but there is still a stigma attached with the diagnosis. Many try to hide it; withdraw from work and social engagements. Pull back from commitments and relationships until there is nothing left. Nothing normal.
Geri’s story, like the many others before, speaks to a larger need for normalcy. Destigmatizing Alzheimer’s. And what’s more normal than a family enjoying a summer vacation?
Insight Memory Care Center now offers a Caregiver Cruise. Both the individual with a dementia diagnosis and their caregiver attend, making the program possibly the first of its kind in the country. In addition to the many benefits a cruise offers – the chance for a vacation, seeing new sights, a getaway – the caregiver cruise provides families with a sense of normalcy.
“It is a ‘safe space’ in which we can be ourselves…in the company of people—participants and Insight staff—who just ‘get it’,” says Michael Bell, a previous cruise participant.
Insight’s second annual Caregiver Cruise is departing later this month for New England and Halifax with 8 families in attendance. Beyond enjoying a duck tour of Boston, cruise participants have the opportunity for a vacation in a safe environment, in the company of others who “get it.”
“’That’s such a great idea!’ is what I keep hearing anytime I tell someone about the Caregiver Cruise program,” shares Christi Clark, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Insight. She will be presenting a how-to workshop on replicating the program for other adult day center leaders at the National Adult Day Services Association conference later this fall.
Insight Memory Care Center strives to provide the highest quality of life for those with dementia. And what better way to promote quality of life – even just normalcy - than with a well-deserved vacation.