We’re gonna need a bigger boat

I suspect everyone comes back from holiday, goes to work and instantly forgets the previous week and feels the need for another holiday.

We’ve just come back from a weeks holiday on a motor cruiser on the Norfolk Broads with mum. We deliberately selected what we thought would be a suitable boat, where mum had her own cabin with an on-suite, Ella in her own room and Sonia and I in our cabin at the front (bow). The boat was great, however some of the practicalities of caring for mum made it difficult. Space in the cabins and toilets doesn’t help with the physical element of helping mum to the loo or washing. To be fair they probably don’t have a boat that would have been suitable.

We coped (to a degree) and mum said she enjoyed it and the holiday was really great. We enjoyed it as well but the reality is we had to provide care services through the day, whereas 5 days a week we are at work and technically get a break.

The physical elements of helping mum up and washing on there own are one thing. Normally mum walks with a frame. On a boat this is not possible so its various handles, galley work surfaces or old school holding hands had to be called on. Getting mum to walk is a challenge in its self.

Getting mum on and off the boat was interesting, and must have caused amusement or concern for any other boat watching. Standing between the water and mum, to stop her falling in, whilst she shuffles sideways along the back (stern) of the boat worked, but in hindsight could have been a nightmare if she had slipped. Not sure she would have recovered. The cold, the shock, the difficulty lifting her out etc. Stressful for me as I took on this element of care.

However, more challenging and one we hadn’t thought about, was the mental elements of coping with someone with Alzheimer’s constantly over 7 days and its worth understanding this for anyone considering it.

The new environment, triggered new questions from mum.

“Where is the other person that’s with us”?  “There is 5 of us”? We assumed that she was thinking of Dad, but had to simply reassure her that everyone was present.

“Have you let my mum and dad know I’m here and safe”? Again we’ve learnt just to tell a little white lie and reassured her that we had called them and told them.

Bizarrely we didn’t have the usual questions about the time or which day of the week it was. Mum remembered some of the locations we tied up at and how to play patients and showed Ella the game so in other ways the holiday triggered new memory recalls.

We (or rather Sonia)  also had to do the role that the carers do 7 days a week of getting mum up in the morning. With no washing machine on board, it adds a level of complexity, washing pyjamas in the sink. Again something to consider for anyone going on holiday with someone with care needs. Actually its very similar to going on holiday with a toddler with the amount of extra clothes and extra supplies you take to be prepared for any eventuality/accident.

As a family we did enjoy the location, the activity of driving (motoring) around the Broads and seeing all the wildlife and views. Seeing a wild Otter is a once in a life time moment. However we definitely need another holiday. Selfishly, without mum. Flipside of a second holidis we will no doubt still worry whilst on holiday about whats happening with mum in our absence. Again something else to consider. Once you start caring, you cant switch it off, no matter what you try, or other people say or do for you.


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