Should people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease share their dementia diagnosis with family, friends, coworkers and employers? Certainly there are pros and cons to be carefully weighed when faced with a terminal illness having a negative social stigma attached to it, one of vulnerability, weakness and outright fear. After all, no one wants to deal with the cognitive decline and eventual death sentence of a loved one or acquaintance.
Disadvantages of disclosing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis might include jeopardizing a person’s job or alienating them from those ignorant about the disease. On the other hand, benefits of disclosure include bringing more awareness of the disease to the general public, generating additional support from the community, and finding inner acceptance that might pave the way for helpful treatment options to slow the progression of the disease while improving the quality of precious time that is left. Continue reading →
I read a beautifully written letter in Dear Abby recently that plainly states what it is that dementia caregivers need most. “A Friend of Yours” writes the following from which we can all learn as we try to support those caring for loved ones afflicted with dementia: Continue reading →
I’ve already set my DVR to record the Larry King special on CNN tonight called Unthinkable: The Alzheimer’s Epidemic. This one-hour special will look into Alzheimer’s disease, who gets it and why, and the race to find effective treatments and a possible cure. The TV program airs May 1, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CNN and is really a must-see for those affected by Alzheimer’s or anyone who wants to learn more about this “disease of the 21st century”. I will share my own personal thoughts after I’ve had a chance to watch. I’d love to know what you think too, so please leave a comment if you get a chance to watch this program.
If you have a history of dementia in your family, what exactly can you do to prevent getting Alzheimer’s disease yourself? I struggle with this question and try to keep up-to-date on the latest medical news on the subject since my mother died from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease two years ago. I just read an interesting article about Trudie Styler in the London Evening Standard that helped to substantiate my own thoughts on prevention. Turns out that Trudie Styler’s mother died from Alzheimer’s disease also at age 60 after being diagnosed at the early age of 54, leaving Trudie with the same question nagging her continually, “What can I do to prevent getting Alzheimer’s disease?” Here is what Trudie herself said in this article about her mother and the looming threat of Alzheimer’s:
She never met her grandchildren. I’m very traumatised by my mother’s early death. I have to say to myself, ‘What can I do to circumvent Alzheimer’s?’ Unlike cancer, there’s really not a lot of literature out there.
2011 marks the sixty-fifth birthday of the first people born into the generation known as the baby boomers, a massive group of babies born following World War II between the years of 1946 to 1964. As these seniors continue aging, they will become much more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. And with approximately 79 million baby boomers located within the US, the staggering increase of Alzheimer’s patients is estimated to overload the healthcare system and caregivers in the next twenty years. The statistics are overwhelming. Currently 1 in 8 people age 65 and older are estimated to develop Alzheimer’s. For the US boomer population alone, that means nearly 10 million of them will develop Alzheimer’s disease in the next twenty years (do the math yourself: 79 million divided by 8 equals 9.875 million), double the current number of US Alzheimer’s sufferers at 5.3 million. A boomer epidemic is indeed on the way. As the babies surged sixty-five years ago, so will the Alzheimer’s victims surge over the next twenty years. The question is whether or not we will be ready to care for these people physically, emotionally and financially. Continue reading →
I read a great article in my local newspaper today written by a teenager named David Marshall who helps take care of his grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. I just wanted to say “bravo” to this young man for compassionately offering to help his parents care for an afflicted member of their family. This is a difficult job requiring a great deal of sacrifice, and this young man is learning important lessons that will stay with him for the rest of his life, as he has already discovered.
Living with an older person with Alzheimer’s has changed the way I look at aging and at the responsibilities we have in regard for our parents and grandparents.
I’ve recently finished reading the book Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s by Lauren Kessler and found it an interesting exploration of professional caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients. After feeling guilty about her own mother’s care and death from Alzheimer’s, Lauren Kessler decided to go work as a resident assistant as penance to gain a better perspective of the disease and its victims. She relates all the dirty details of the backbreaking job and the bizarre tendencies of the care facility residents.
I know how hard the job of a resident assistant is after watching them care for my own mother, but I always thought their official job title was CNA or certified nursing assistant. This book shined more light on the difficulties of their duties and working conditions, making me admire them even more. It takes a special person to continue caring for Alzheimer’s patients as a long-term career, and many times I marveled at their compassion, tenderness and patience, knowing I couldn’t do the same job nearly as well for any length of time.
One of the most difficult decisions regarding the care of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is driving privileges, determining when they need to stop driving. I am painfully aware this is a controversial topic setting off heated debates about individual rights versus public safety. But if the question, “I wonder if Mom should be driving anymore?” is running through your head or spoken aloud (with your loved one’s name used, of course), there is a pretty good chance your Alzheimer’s patient should not be driving any longer.
The internet has an abundance of information regarding Alzheimer’s and driving (see following references), and the bottom line is that eventually all Alzheimer’s patients will need to stop driving due to mental decline. While no one argues this point, the problem is deciding exactly when the time is right to take away this privilege that most adults take for granted.
Safety outweighs individual rights and independence, and not just the safety of the Alzheimer’s patient, but the safety of innocent bystanders. I like the advice offered from the Mayo Clinic on this issue: Continue reading →
Just watched an interesting Katie Couric interview with author Jean Carper, who has written the book on preventing Alzheimer’s called 100 Simple Things You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s. The book specifically suggests things you can do to slow down the onset of SYMPTOMS, not prevent getting the disease itself, for people without symptoms who already know they are susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease. Some tips include: Continue reading →
First, it refutes the myth that once a brain cell is lost, it is lost forever. Research now shows that the brain has the ability to grow new cells, specifically the cells involved with memory. This miraculous regeneration can be accomplished through exercise, and the more intense the exercise, the greater the ability to grow new brain cells. Exercise is good, strenuous exercise is even better. Continue reading →