Cruising with the elderly

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by rmom, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. rmom

    rmom Mouseketeer

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    I am thinking of books a cruise to Alaska with my daughter and elderly mother. She has mobility issues and is in her late 80's. I know she would love to go but I am worried about taking her.

    Has anyone gone with a elderly parent who need assistance? What was your experience?

    thanks!
     
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  3. NancyIL

    NancyIL DIS Veteran

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    My first Disney cruise was with my elderly mother when she was 82. She rented an electric wheelchair for the cruise, and we had a handicap-accessible balcony cabin on the Wonder. Unfortunately, the HA cabins on the Magic and Wonder are at the very far ends of the ship - rather than close to the elevators, as they should be. It was a very long walk down the hallways to get to the elevators.
     
  4. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

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    What type of "assistance" does she need? Self-care, or just generally a hand helping guide her as she walks? Mobility devices can be used on the cruise ships - cane, walker, or ECV or wheelchair. She can eat at the sit down restaurants rather than try to deal with carrying a tray at the buffet - or you could put food for both of you on 1 tray. DCL has a few accessible staterooms if she needs that, though I've heard there are few and they book quickly so you'd want to make sure one is available for your date. You would want to research any excursions you are interested in doing to make sure it is something she can handle. If she had special dietary needs, DCL can handle that if it's noted on your reservation. I think she'll be fine.

    Enjoy your cruise!
     
  5. kcashner

    kcashner DIS Veteran

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    I think a lot depends on what kind of assistance your mother needs. I cruised with a 65 year old who has had mobility issues all her life--she needed the handicapped cabin, but with those modifications could take care of herself. She did use the wheelchair for the entire cruise.

    If your mother needs a scooter or wheelchair (which it sounds like she does as there is a fair amount of walking on the ship), she will need the HA cabin. Will you be staying in the cabin with her? She may not be able to open the heavy doors, especially the balcony door (if you choose one). How does she handle things at home? Can she live independently? If not, she'll need at least the same assistance on the ship that she does at home.

    At the risk of being rude, you may need to decide whether you want to enjoy your vacation or whether you want to spend it being a caregiver. That's more harsh than I intend, but she would certainly change the character of your trip.
     
  6. MagicMe

    MagicMe DIS Veteran

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    Sorry to be so long but wanted to touch on each aspect of our trip.

    Actually we did the DCL cruise to Alaska in 2011 (from Vancouver) and loved it! My mother who has always been extremely active and was just shy of 70 at the time was stricken with a viral infection just about three weeks before our cruise. She was unable to walk even short distances without holding on or needing assistance. We were able to secure a nice sturdy collapsible wheel chair from a friend (one with a nice removable cushion) and she had a great trip.

    Obviously we needed to allow extra time to maneuver at the airports but our party was able to board the plane before others. Customs in Vancouver allowed her and one person to exit customs through the shorter employee line while my son, his wife and her parents had to wait in the long customs lines. While in Vancouver (with the help of my son), we were able to see the city by doing the hop on/hop off bus.

    As far as the Wonder, the CMs were fantastic!! Although tight when your room stewards were out working, we were still able to take the wheel chair in the corridors to our room. We had an inside stateroom which was booked prior to our knowing she would need a wheelchair. I had the CMs split the bed and I was always able to fold up the wheelchair and park it at the bottom of the one bed so it did not impede our ability to move around the cabin. My mom was able to get around in the small confines of the cabin as she was able to hold on to stabilize herself.

    The dining rooms are accessible by wheelchair. Our table was not right on the main area but the CMs would let me get her out of the wheelchair to walk the short distance to our table while they took care of collapsing and storing the chair during meals. I also found it easier to just keep the chair and sit with her at the back of the theater.

    Basically we had no issues getting around the ship (except for the occasional rude person that would not hold an elevator or try to squeeze in when it was obviously full).

    Excursions  I had booked an excursion in each of the ports and decided to keep them when I checked and found that the buses allowed for collapsible chairs. We did the train ride that included the stop at Liarsville with lunch in Skagway. Our trip was taking the bus up into Canada and boarding the train there to take back to Skagway. The bus driver kept the chair while we were on the train and met us back in town. I remember that the gangway getting on and off the ship was very steep here. They had two CMs help take her down the gangway and when we returned to the ship, they called for two CMs to push her up the gangway. In Juneau, we did a dogsled excursion. This did require her to walk around the camp but she was able to do this by holding on to my arm. We were able to easily walk the streets in Juneau and found a fantastic crepe place!!! Finally in Ketchikan, we did the excursion to the village that had the totem poles and then did the lumberjack show. Again, each time we collapsed the chair for the driver to load under the bus while being transported around.

    This was a fantastic trip and I am so glad we decided to go ahead with it.
     
  7. rmom

    rmom Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    Unfortunately, she does need assistance with is why she is in a assisted living community. We talked about going to Alaska for years but were unable to. I know she would love it but... I would be spending a lot of time helping her and be tied to her. I could find someone to go with us and help, I quess. She usues a walker but had falled and her eye site may be an issue. She needs help getting done is a normal amount of time.

    kcashner - it is not rude. That is part of my problem. While I know she would love it, I have a 16 yr old daughter, home 19 months, to consider. If it was just my mom and I, it would not be an issue. Unfortunately my sibs are not (can not be) much help.

    Magicme - I know it would be worth it in the long run. How much assistance didi your mom need?
     
  8. ggthatsme

    ggthatsme Earning My Ears

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    We took my mom with us last November (72 years old and mobility issues). HA room 6014 on the Fantasy.
    It was A LOT of work because, as you said, we were tied to her. However, it was her first (and only) cruise. She stated she loved it, but she knew it was work for us and does not wish to go again (even though in the next breath she says she misses the ship ::yes:: )
    I would not trade that time with my mother for anything.
    Happy Cruising!
     
  9. rmom

    rmom Mouseketeer

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    Me too! That is why I am having trouble deciding.

    Was there any help on board? I know at WDW I could get a sitter for my adult sn daughter.

    thanks!!
     
  10. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

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    I don't believe DCL offers any "adult sitting" services. The DD going with you is special needs, as well as your mother's needs? That's a tough one. While I'm sure either a CM or a good samaritan fellow guest would offer some assistance (carrying trays, holding doors, etc.) it won't be anyone to specifically help with either your mom or DD. If you can swing it, I'd bring someone else too. Do you have another relative or close friend who would be willing to assist with either of them if you offered to pay the fare? I've heard of agencies you can hire, but it would be expensive because you'd have to not only pay the person's fare but most likely also an hourly wage.
     
  11. rmom

    rmom Mouseketeer

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    The daughter would be going is not sp nds. I am crazy - but not that crazy :scared1:. The daughter that would be going has only been home for 19 months so I'd like to be able to spend some time with her also instead of just taking care of my mom the whole trip.
     
  12. kcashner

    kcashner DIS Veteran

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    Keep in mind that if your mother's issues include any cognitive dysfunction that some of these individuals can seem to worsen markedly when out of their comfortable environment.

    And no, you won't have help for mom on the cruise. You'll have CMs to carry trays or assist with wheelchairs, but not with "adult sitting."
     
  13. Jgasink

    Jgasink Mouseketeer

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    Yes,it will be a LOT of work... IF you can swing it DO IT! NOW!

    Think of it as a Labor of Love (and your daughter will remember this too) and if shes 16,then she can take a shift or two - cmon your taking her on a cruise!

    I just took my MOM out of Galveston. Stroke survivor,limited speech, walks with a cane for short distances,uses a wheelchair. She was treated like a queen by all on board. Since Alaska is a classic ship(wonder?) its smaller and easier to get around.. get at least a room with a porthole for alaska - and I would recommend a balcony cabin - this will help you avoid the crowds on deck... Buy the photo package and take as many pictures as you can - every character,dining,port etc- yes its like 400 bucks but these will be memories you will want. I have a pic of mom with chip and dale and another with her growling like a pirate I wouldnt trade for anything.

    Can she stay alone for even a limited time? Say to take a nap? or go to bed earlier? or will she require help for even the toilet? you can probably find some adult time when shes in bed *( mom crashed out a couple of times during the show) -

    Find accessible excursions - and enjoy the time with her... because once shes gone its too late...
     
  14. Jgasink

    Jgasink Mouseketeer

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    Find a rehab facility with a gym attached and see if they offer personal trainers - Mom goes 4 time a week for a 1/2 hour at a time - she has increased stamina and strength -well worth it... it will help get her ready for
     
  15. rmom

    rmom Mouseketeer

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    They have a couple of handicapped rooms available with a port hole. Unfortunely none with a balcony. I am looking at this summer as we almost lost her twice in 2 years so who knows what we are in for in the future. She needs someone there so she doesn't fall.

    How did you find the rehad with a gym? It sounds like a good idea.
     
  16. Jgasink

    Jgasink Mouseketeer

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    we lucked out,its part of the facility where my mom did her initial stroke rehab -

    an quick internet search yielded this http://www.rancho.org/Default.htm

    look for a senior wellness program...

    Have a Great Time!!!

    John
     
  17. rmom

    rmom Mouseketeer

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    Thanks everyone for Your inputS. Unfortunately my sister & her husband can not go on any cruises (or trains) because of past injuries. We will be going somewhere but not on a cruise. Maybe we will fly to Alaska and go to Denail Park - we'll see.

    John - thanks for the info. I'll see what I can find in the SF bay area.
     

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