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Where shall we go for our hols, Ms Alzheimer’s?

It is vital, if you can, for the three of you to take lots of interesting holidays when you’re a couple plus Ms Alzheimer’s. She might bite less viciously, if her victim is exposed to lots of mind enhancing experiences. Or so they say.

At the time of writing we are just coming to the end of a week in an up-market holiday camp in Greece – a huge five star hotel, a marble temple to tourism hacked out of a beautiful hillside on the east coast of Corfu. It’s the sort of place hundreds of people come to in search of skin cancer as they fry themselves all day every day on sun loungers like rashers of bacon on a grill. And the piped music consists of Frank Sinatra, Pavarotti, the Beatles and Mozart pops which tells you something about the, mostly British, clientele.

Anyway although it’s not quite our usual style I thought it would be a good place for a rest and in many ways it has been. We don’t do the sun worship thing but I like being able to get a decent daily swim, we’ve each read several books and eaten lots of nice food which I didn’t have to cook. I miss the car though because it would have made sense to explore more of the island. But I’m not comfortable driving a left hand drive car on the “wrong” side of the road and Ms A has stopped My Loved One driving altogether. Day trips by coach? Well they start before 8.00am and don’t get back until 7.00pm and there’s no way MLO and Ms A have the stamina to cope with that so that wasn’t an option either. So we confined ourselves to a just a couple of very pleasant outings by taxi.

I was curious to know how they – MLO and his partner-in-illness – would manage the flight. They were, thank goodness, fine probably because it was only three hours. They’ve had problems with the hotel though. Because we’re on a steep hillside there are steps everywhere. “When I look down, it’s as if the steps are coming up to meet me and I’m terrified” he says, clutching the rail, taking one step at time, moving at the speed of a slow loris and looking about 97.

Then there’s stepping manfully up to the bar to order hot drinks or beers, as chaps do. And then being totally unable to remember our room number – about 20 times in the course of the week. The bar staff quickly sussed the situation and would say tactfully; “You go and sit with your wife over there, Sir, and I’ll bring your drinks over to you”. That meant, bless them, they could check the room number with me without making a fuss about it. Leaving our room was usually a bit of an adventure too as I led the way to breakfast or dinner. “Where are we going?” he’d ask mildly.

In general, though, the pundits and medics do seem to be right. MLO has been relatively bright this week. The change of scenery plus getting my undivided attention 24/7 has allowed him to relax and he reports that his brain feels “less foggy”. Holidays probably really are good for the three of us.

Next time I must pack for MLO, though, or at least oversee his suitcase. Ms Alzheimer’s, silly bitch, managed to get him to Greece without a toothbrush or razor and with too few shirts for the week. All remediable but daft. And avoidable.

Next time? Well yes of course we shall holiday again. But it’s quite tricky to decide what would work best. We both loathe the idea of cruising, English speaking tour guides or anything which reminds me of a school trip. We’ve always done our own thing in our own way and taken some pride in that. It’s much less straightforward now.

We love city breaks especially in the US. That needs stamina. though, because you tend to be out and about on your feet all day. We once spent a whole week walking the streets of Manhattan and I guarantee we’ve seen bits of it that not one other tourist in a hundred has.

“Can’t we go back to the States?” he asked quite incisively this week. “Well, if we did where would you like to go?” I responded cautiously, well aware that there’s a lot of carpe diem in this. “Washington. And we could stay in that nice place I loved so much” he said immediately. He meant Georgetown although he couldn’t remember its name. OK. If he’s reasonably chirpy though Christmas and new year I’ll book it for the spring and hope Ms A, curtailed by pills, copes with the jet lag better than the last time we went long haul. Only seven hours … not like flying to the Pacific coast, after all.

We’ve always liked self-catering in cottages in Britain too. Perhaps we should do more of that. At least I can take the car so that we’re independent and MLO can take his hateful companion for a lie down when he needs to – without having to negotiate with chamber maids and hotel routines.

Note that in all this it’s me making every decision and arrangement. Not so long ago I had a husband who could and did book a holiday after discussion about where we were going. He’d sort flights, accommodation, car hire, insurance, currency, visas and all the rest of it – an administrator though and though. All I had to do was organise my professional work around the chosen dates and pack a suitcase on the right day. Sod you, Ms Alzheimer’s.

Marbella Hotel. Corfu

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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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