Sometimes as in the case of my sister and my mother, you are thrust into becoming a caregiver. In my sister’s case, she had lung cancer as she was caregiving for mom. And when she passed I was caregiver to mom. Other times, you can see the caregiving coming but it’s not a crisis. You can become a new caregiver if you start to embrace the role early. For example, my 86 YO mother-in-law lives independently but she still needs help getting around because she does not drive. And she needs people there are doctor appointments to be a fresh set of ears. For my wife and her sisters, they stepped into the role gradually. And that will make them better caregivers should my mother-in-law need extra care one day.
The Ed Tyll Show
It was great to appear on the Ed Tyll Show. He is a gracious host and a curious one. We talked about many topics. Starting with the general area of caregiving, we progressed to talk about the Dementia Action Alliance and then of course our Caregiver Smile Cruise. Ed has expressed interest in having me back on the show and I could not be more pleased to do so. Watch for future Smilecasts when we do appear.
Consider a Caregiver Cruise – Reprinted from Sixty and Me
There are 66 million family caregivers in the U.S. alone; 70% are female and 25% are Millennials. Caregivers suffer worsened health than non-caregivers and 40-60% report symptoms of depression. Some caregivers, like my sister, pre-decease the ones for whom they care.
Recently, my local church, through funding through my Rotary chapter, was given a sizeable grant to support their Monday respite program. To say they are bursting at the seams is an understatement.
Family caregivers love the time to themselves while their loved ones have time to participate in activities. But many of the caregivers stay and participate themselves. They love spending time with their loved one in a fun setting.
A cruise multiplies this by 10 – or maybe seven depending on how many days you choose! Let’s look at some reasons you might consider a cruise/conference.
Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate
You should consider relaxation first and foremost for respite. Caregivers need to recharge and need to smile. Cruises typically travel to warm, exotic locations during the months when the weather is cold elsewhere.
A Non-Threatening Environment to Discuss Important Family Issues
You may just be seeing the signs that mom or dad needs care or you are new to caregiving. Chances are you did not prepare for it because typically aging around the world happens in a crisis.
Cruises provide a perfect setting for a family reunion. Families can have fun and learn about the issues ahead and plan for them together. In fact, everyone learns something about how to prepare for their own aging, too. It’s a great way to discuss important issues in a relaxed, supportive atmosphere.
Meet New Friends in a Mutual Support Group
Because these cruises are dedicated to family caregivers, you typically meet others going through what you are going through. Even former caregivers tend to cruise and are around to lend an ear and a shoulder.
You Can Learn a Lot on a Caregiver Cruise
There are many kinds of caregiver cruises. Some are totally focused on dementia. Others are more broad-based. All have an educational component. You may find faculty that includes legal and financial professionals, geriatric care managers, people living with dementia, people who are involved in the long-term care industry and more.
So instead of seeking out six different experts in your community, you have them all gathered in one place where you can listen to them in formal lectures and converse with them informally throughout the cruise.
There Are Creative Ways to Pay for It
Yes, cruises are expensive but typically a cruise/conference is bundled in such a way that it’s more affordable than if you were just going to cruise. Certainly family caregivers are under financial stress. That is where you get creative.
Online funding mechanisms can help offset expenses with people adopting specific individuals or couples to go. Cruise sponsors can have a portion of their sponsor money put into a fund to help too. And hospitals and other health providers can honor caregivers through events that culminate in a heroic caregiver being awarded a cruise.
If you or someone you know might be interested, I am hosting a Caribbean Cruise next January. The Caregiver Smile Cruise will depart Ft. Lauderdale on a 10-day adventure.
If you are a caregiver, what do you do to relax and release stress? Have you ever taken a caregiver cruise or short trip with other caregivers? What topics would you look forward to discussing? Start the conversation here in the comments section.
Anthony Cirillo is president of The Aging Experience. He helps organizations craft experiences and seize opportunities the mature marketplace. He helps family caregivers thrive and individuals make educated aging decisions. He is a consultant and professional speaker.
Care coordination is perhaps the biggest issue facing family caregivers, especially if a loved on his hospitalized. That is when it is important to pick a great primary care physician who can serve as your medical home. This will smooth transitions and assure that your loved one does not fall through the cracks. Sometimes you have to reach out for help. That is when the services of a geriatric care manager can be invaluable. You may also consider a patient advocate who can help too. Let’s look at these issues.