Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sea Change

There was a wonderful article about Alzheimer’s in the New York Times yesterday. The focus was not on accurate diagnosis nor on possible cures. It was about providing excellent, appropriate care to patients with Alzheimer’s. My Dad died of Alzheimer’s in 1988, at the age of 68. Chuck’s Mom died of the same disease in 1999, at the age of 82. While we contribute to the Alzheimer’s Association, truthfully, I can hardly stand to read any articles about the disease. Over the years there have been precious few breakthroughs, which has left me dispirited. It ravaged our parents and robbed them, and all of us, of the extraordinary people they were. To revisit the topic is exceptionally painful.

But the title of the article in the Times by Pam Belluck captured my attention: “Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate”. I clicked over to it with some apprehension, but I read it all the way through. In the end, I felt encouraged, almost optimistic. Should Alzheimer’s strike our family again, I now know that the care of patients has advanced dramatically. Humane, compassionate, responsive, intuitive. creative, high quality and individualized care is possible. Such care is not a fluke nor practiced on a hunch. There is a great deal of research to back it up. Compared to what my Dad experienced, it is a sea change; compared to Chuck’s Mom, it is a significant improvement.

Whether or not Alzheimer’s has touched your life, I urge you to read the article. It can only serve to make us better informed and able to advocate for those we love - no matter what illness is being wrestled with.

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