Caregiver Cruises Offer Self-Directed Learning Opportunities and Respite for Weary Caregivers

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A Caregiver Stress Management Cruise is a travel package designed to offer much needed respite, relaxation, entertainment, fun, and educational support for family and professional caregivers.

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Caregiver Stress Management Cruises are not just for Alzheimer's Caregivers,'' says Patrick Toal. ''They are designed with all types of caregivers in mind and every activity is optional. The main goal for cruisers is to connect with other caregivers, share experiences and return home re-energized.

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CSM Cruises is pleased to announce that they have donated Caregiver Cruises to several non-profits, including The Alzheimer's Association. Last year the cruise that was raffled by The Eastern NC Chapter raised over $8000. In 2009, Patrick Toal, Dr. Teena Cahill and the staff at CaregiverCruises.com will be coordinating the very first Memory Walk at Sea to be held on February 11, 2009. Proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer's Association proving once and for all that caregivers really do "walk on water."

CAREGIVER STRESS MANAGEMENT CRUISES
Cruising is worry-free travel because almost everything is included in the travel package. So, the caregiver can spend more time focused on relaxing and enjoying all the amenities a large cruise ship has to offer with the added security of being part of a smaller, organized group.

Joan Gershman, creator of TheAlzheimerSpouse.com, a website that offers support and information exclusive to spousal caregivers of Alzheimer patients, was on a past cruise in 2008. She says she already has her bags packed for the next trip and is recruiting friends from her support group and website to join her on the 2009 cruise.

According to Gershman, ''when caregivers are offered clean breaks like this from their caregiving responsibilities, they often return home re-energized with a wealth of new caregiver knowledge.'' This self-directed learning is taken primarily from one-on-one dialogue with other "veteran caregivers" and through support group meetings onboard the ships.

WHAT TO EXPECT ONBOARD
Many first time Caregiver Cruisers don't know what to expect on the cruise. The activities designed for this cruise are for caregivers only. With shorter cruises, the focus is on facilitated caregiver support group meetings and simple meditation exercises as a part of the respite routine. On the longer cruises, guest speakers offer short workshops on a variety of caregiving topics in addition to the support group meetings. Both cruises promote interaction with other caregivers onboard, sharing stories and helpful strategies for optimizing caregiving at home. As an added bonus, author and long term care expert, Lisa Gwyther, will be giving The Welcome on the September 2009 Alaskan Cruise and Radio Talk Show Host and Author, Teena Cahill will be offering The Welcome on the first day of the February Caribbean Cruise.    

On some past sailings the majority of the caregivers were caring for a spouse with Alzheimer's Disease, but this is not always the case. According to geriatric social worker, Patrick Toal, the face of caregiving is quickly changing. More and more Baby Boomers are becoming sandwiched caregivers, caring for a teenager or adult child while at the same time caring for an aging parent. "Caregiver Stress Management Cruises are not just for Alzheimer's Caregivers,'' says Patrick Toal. ''They are designed with all types of caregivers in mind and every activity is optional. The main goal for cruisers is to connect with other caregivers, share experiences and return home re-energized." Patrick reminds caregivers that if they need a massage more than they need a support group meeting, then by all means, they should get the massage.

Patrick says that all activities associated with the cruise are optional with one exception--the homework. Here's a Sample of the Homework for Day One: 1). Get a massage 2). Do something totally self-indulgent 3). Write at least 1 page in your Stress Journal

For more information about Caregiver Stress Management Cruises look for their informational video on YouTube or contact cruise coordinator Patrick Toal.

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