A Sixties' Recipe for Treating Alzheimer's
The New York Times reports on the depressing statistics of Alzheimer's disease:
4.5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s, 1 in 10 over 65 and nearly half of those over 85. Taking care of them costs $100 billion a year, and the number of patients is expected to reach 11 million to 16 million by 2050. Experts say the disease will swamp the health system.
Researchers and drug companies aren't even close to a cure. So what's a person to do when faced with a parent or loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's?
Take a cue from those of the '60's generation: Go with the flow.
If a patient asks for her mother, for instance, instead of pointing out that her mother has been dead for 40 years, it is better to say something like, “I wish your mother were here, too,” and then maybe redirect the conversation to something else, like what’s for lunch.
If Dad wants to polish off the duck sauce in a Chinese restaurant like it’s a bowl of soup, why not? If Grandma wants to help out by washing the dishes but makes a mess of it, leave her to it and just rewash them later when she’s not looking. Pull out old family pictures to give the patient something to talk about. Learn the art of fragmented, irrational conversation and follow the patient’s lead instead of trying to control the dialogue.
In other words,
Basically, just tango on. And hope somebody will do the same for you when your time comes. Unless the big breakthrough happens first.
Zen and the art of Alzheimer's maintenance. How sad that we can't do any better than this.
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