What About Future Travel?

So what do I think about this trip and future travel?

I believe this trip was the right thing to do. We have seen and done new and interesting things. As I write, I am sitting on a lounge on a terrace overlooking Lake Lucerne. Kate is either experiencing allergy problems, or she is coming down with a cold. We had a filling lunch and ate ice cream late this afternoon. She didn’t feel like eating at all.

While the trip has gone well, I must admit that it just isn’t the same as it has been before. This relates directly to Kate’s AD, not to any aspect of the trip itself.

The fact that we are traveling does, however, make things more complicated than being at home. There are so many different things for me to be think about. On top of that is tending to Kate. While I haven’t lost her at any time, there have been brief moments in which I didn’t see her or she didn’t see me. The very thought that I might lose her has added a little stress.

In addition, the fact that she can’t understand so much of what is going on around her has meant (here and at home) that we can’t have the same kind of conversations we used to have.

Thinking ahead, I concluded early in our trip that we definitely will not do a trip of this nature again. It is simply too difficult for me to manage.

We have the NYC trip coming up in June. The fact that we will have our daughter, Jesse, and our son, Ken, along to manage the grandchildren will make this doable and enjoyable.

I suspect the trip to Chautauqua will be different this year. It might even be our last.

When I think of these things I immediately feel a sadness. Obviously for Kate but also for me. It is not only that she will never experience things in the same way again but neither will I. That may be one reason that I am lingering out here overlooking Lake Lucerne and the surrounding mountains. I really love these experiences, but they are best shared with someone you love.

Sunday Morning In Lucerne

Our trip continues to go well. Yesterday we stayed in town. I had intended for us to take a walking tour of the Old Town, but we arrived a little too late. I didn’t worry about this as we have today and tomorrow to catch it. In addition, I am trying not to have any one thing that is a must. This outlook seems to be working.

We do continue to have little surprises. Yesterday morning at breakfast, Kate went back to the buffet table for something. When she returned, she walked directly to a table where a man was sitting. She started to put her plate down on the table in the seat where his wife had been sitting. He saw her and looked puzzled. His wife was also returning from the buffet table and was immediately behind Kate. She, too, looked puzzled. It was then that Kate looked at him and realized that she was at the wrong table. She said, “You’re not my husband.” The three of them had a brief conversation before she headed to the table where I was sitting.

Before heading out to catch the walking tour, I realized that we did not have Kate’s sweater and figured that we had left it at the Italian restaurant the previous night. I assumed that they would not yet be opened and planned to drop by later to pick it up. Since we missed the tour, we went to the Samuel Rosengart Museum. It contains his and his daughter’s private collection of Picasso, Klee, and a number of other well-known artists of the same period (Monet, Pizarro, Chagall, Renoir and more). This was a great experience. Kate loved it. As we were checking out of the museum, the receptionist asked for the badges we had worn showing that we had paid. Kate didn’t have hers. Then I realized she didn’t have her jacket. I remembered that we had sat down to watch a video about the museum and that she must have left it on a chair. We went back upstairs and found it.

From there we went by Valentino’s and picked up her sweater. Then to a nice lunch along the water front where we ate outside. We walked around a little while and visited a Catholic cathedral near our hotel and then came back to the room for almost 2 hours. Then we went to dinner near the KKL (the building that houses their concert hall and art museum) where we attended a concert by Jonas Kaufmann, a rising star in the opera world. There we had a couple of other mishaps.

After taking our seats about 15 minutes before the performance, Kate dropped a bag of mixed nuts on the floor. A bunch of nuts fell to the floor in front of her and slid under the feet of the woman in front of Kate and the seat in front of her. There was nothing to do but let them be until intermission when the people had gone to the lobby. Then I cleaned them up.

While the performance was going on, Kate got very upset with me. I am not sure what started it. What I remember is that after each of the first pieces of music, she commented on how good the orchestra was as well as the singer. I thought I acknowledged her enthusiasm, but a little while later when I made my own comment about the performance, she said something about my trying to keep her quiet during the performance. I must not have given a sufficient agreement when she expressed her enthusiasm. I do know that I am not one to talk during a performance like this and that I try not to encourage her to talk much either. By the time the concert was over, she had forgotten all about it though she did ask if I was mad at her for dropping the nuts. I assured her that I wasn’t.

After the performance, we slipped out while most of the crowd was still applauding. Once again Kate dropped the bag of nuts, this time spilling a much larger quantity. At this point there was nothing to do but move on.

Friday Evening In Lucerne

A couple of different things happened today that point to further declines in Kate’s memory or her general mental acuity. The first occurred this morning in Interlaken as she was getting dressed. She was looking for underwear. I told her that I knew where they were. I went to one of my own packing cubes where I had put about 8 brand new pair just for this event. Unbeknownst to her, I had already put one new pair in her suitcase for her to wear earlier in the week. She thanked me but never asked any questions about why I would have her underwear with my things. In fact, she watched me open the package; so it should have been obvious that they were new. The fact that she wasn’t curious signals further decline in her condition. I have been gradually assuming responsibility for such things over a long period of time. The fact that I was taking care of her underwear just seemed to beg for more suspicion on her part.

This has been a cold and rainy day. The high was around 41 here in Lucerne and Interlaken. We checked into our hotel around 1:45. We had a long lunch in the hotel dining room and came back to the room for a while.

After Kate had finished resting, we started to leave the room to explore the Old Town. As we were about to leave, it started raining again. I asked if she really wanted to walk around in the cold and rain. She said no. She sat down in a chair and picked up a bag that she carries with her when we go out. When I didn’t show any signs of leaving, she asked about taking the suitcases. I told her we didn’t need to take them. This was a sign that she had already forgotten or misunderstood that we were not going out at all AND, furthermore, that it didn’t jell that we had only arrived in Lucerne less than two hours before.

After the rain subsided, we went out. It was cold, and she wanted to stop someplace to warm up. We went into a coffee shop where she got a Coke, and I got an espresso. While we were sitting there, she pointed to a manikin and said, “I remember that before.” I asked where she had seen it before. She said, “the last time we were here.” Then she pointed to a couple of other things she “remembered.” When we left, we walked by some buildings around the lake in the Old Town. She commented on remembering some of them from before. Finally, while we were at dinner, she pointed to two couples at a nearby table and told me she remembered them from the last time.

All of these things together give added weight to my judgment about her decline. It seems like things are moving faster now. She has been in a good humor all day. It has been leisurely; so she hasn’t had anything to frustrate her. We are enjoying ourselves.

Last Day In Interlaken

Yesterday was another special day. We went paragliding. I had planned for us to make a day trip to Bern, but I had been watching the paragliders float down to the Village Green since our arrival on Monday and wanted both of us to try it. Wednesday night I began to think of paragliding and saving the trip to Bern for the time we are in Zurich. That is what we did. Kate was also interested and never expressed any reservations. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. Each of us went with a separate pilot who asked if we wanted “to do the roller coaster.” What a thrill that turned out to be. Paragliding could well be the highlight of the trip.

One of the behavior changes I have observed in Kate over the past year or so is the use of very large amounts of parmigiana cheese on her Italian food. Last night for the first time, I observed an extreme form of this. After her ravioli was gone, she simply picked up a spoon and ate several spoonfuls directly from the bowl. I did not tell the waitress about this but she could see that it had spaghetti sauce in the bowl with the cheese. Someone had told me she used to carry a card to give to the waiters telling them something that would explain any unusual behavior on the part of her husband who had dementia. I can easily see the need for this in our future.

Something else that I am more mindful of is her need to rest. Although she seems to do well when we are out for long periods of time as we have been the past 3 days, she grabs every chance she gets to lie down. For example, after taking her shower this morning, she immediately got back into bed. She got up in 15-20 minutes and got dressed for breakfast? When we returned to the room, she got back into the bed where she remained for 20-30 minutes. We both packed for our trip to Lucerne and were about to go to the lobby to pass a little time before leaving when she decided to rest a little before going. She is now in bed under the covers.

Day 3 In Interlaken

I am washing clothes at a laundromat and happy to report that things are going quite well. We have had some rough edges but nothing that has put a damper on the trip. It has meant that at times I have felt frustrated. Two issues: Confusion and Rushing. Kate is unable to do or figure out so many things that I am always trying to see that she gets what she needs. For example, I gave her a ticket for our train trip to Schilthorn yesterday. It has a bar code. You stick the card in a slot, and it is scanned. I showed her where to put the card, but she did it incorrectly two times. She gave it to me and asked me to do it. This is something I should have known and handled without her asking. It seems like I am invariably assuming that she can do things that she can’t do. This frustrates both of us. The hard part is that she doesn’t want my help on most things; so I try not to give it. Then we both discover that I should have helped.

I, of course, correctly attribute this to her AD, but it does not appear that she does. I am not sure this is correct. All I know is that her frustrations in moments like this are with me and not herself.

As expected, I am having to be more careful not to lose her. There have been several instances in which she was momentarily lost. She doesn’t like for me to hold her hand. That would be one way to insure that we stick together. What I do is try to walk beside her or to look back instead of ahead.

One reason that things have gone as well as they have is that we have not been under pressure to meet deadlines. For example, when we have traveled to Jungfrau and to Schilthorn we could simply take the next train or bus rather than worrying about having to be at the station on time. We have been able to do a lot, but we have done it leisurely.

As of this moment, I would say the trip is what I had wanted it to be.

First Morning in Interlaken

We came back from breakfast. Kate got in the bed and under the covers. She has been there about 20 minutes. I asked if she were ready to go. She said, “In a few more minutes.” She will still have to change clothes to put on something warmer since we are going to Jungfrau. I don’t want to rush her. At the same time, we need to catch a train. Fortunately, there are periodic trains that make the trip.

This is just another indication that traveling will soon be a thing of the past. We have planned a June trip to New York with our daughter and her two boys and our son and his younger son. I wonder how that will go in NYC.  Since this will be a first trip for the grandchildren, there will be many things to do. I suspect she will be up for it. Our next trip after that will be Chautauqua. That should be relaxing.


This morning we take the train to Interlaken. I am feeling more like myself this morning. Yesterday afternoon I was down. Though I am not a moody person, I do find that my mood can change depending on what is going on with Kate. I remember the same thing happening with my Dad. When he was having a bad day, it affected me.

As we were returning to the hotel yesterday afternoon, I suggested to Kate that she start packing her suitcase so that we wouldn’t be rushed this morning. She immediately reacted negatively to my suggestion and said, “Or tonight after dinner.” I then said, “But you never want to pack after dinner.” That was something I shouldn’t have said. It reflected a feeling that I was doing everything I could to make the trip go smoothly for her, and she wasn’t willing to do this one thing to help me help her. Even in the midst of this, I know clearly that the Alzheimer’s prevents her from looking at things logically. Nevertheless, I find it frustrating.


I am feeling much better today than yesterday morning when I felt that I was having to work too hard to make the trip a good one and that it was not paying off. Simply visiting St. Peter’s Cathedral where Calvin was the preacher in the mid-1500s, having a nice lunch in the old town, and then going to Annecy made the day. Kate loved it. We did it leisurely.

At the moment we are taking a break at the room after going to Starbucks for breakfast and stopping by the train station to confirm the schedule to Montreaux tomorrow. Kate needs the breaks. This is not something that has occurred just here but also in the U.S.

While I feel good now, the trip has confirmed my opinion that we can’t do this again. I’m not even sure that a cruise would work though I am not ready to rule it out. I will first have to see how the summer trips to NYC and Chautauqua go as well as the Christmas trip to Texas.