I have spent a majority of my career working on raising awareness and promoting the importance of quality care for people with Alzheimer's and their families. During this time, I thought I had seen it all and experienced every approach towards the fight to eradicate Alzheimer's disease. Every approach was wanting and empty. However, a new effort with Alzheimer's disease is emerging that is not only impacting the world's fight against Alzheimer's but the way that all care-centered organizations operate as well.
This new movement that is being adopted is simple -- being compassionate. While it may not seem as the most revolutionary idea, it is one that has unfortunately fallen by the wayside. Compassion is the experience of being in solidarity with someone. Not a sentimental feeling of being connected, but an experience that comes from one's own deepest recesses of the stomach, the gut. One becomes so moved they can no longer contain themselves. I believe a significant percentage of the inhabitants of our planet have witnessed Alzheimer's up front and personal that there is a new appreciation for, an understanding of, and enough personal suffering experienced that now emerges this campaign powered by compassion.
If you take a look at most every disease which has made significant strides in research funding or supportive services you will find behind it a consumer driven recognition that the impact of the disease on the population is terrible and therefore needs to be eradicated. Compassion can remove fear and stigma. Compassion drives people to donate and volunteer in not for profit organizations. Compassion drives them to engage their elected representatives and raise their voice for necessary funding for research or in support of legislation that can make a difference. In my opinion, there has been a huge growth spurt of compassion for Alzheimer's disease; for those who have it, for those who are caring for them, and for the rest of us who fear getting it.
There is no denying that finding a cure for this devastating disease is important and that I, along with every Alzheimer's advocate and family member impacted by Alzheimer's around the world, hope a cure is found soon. The new infusion of compassion will not only support those attempting to find the cure but also those developing specialized care for those with Alzheimer's disease as they, and their families, face this devastating illness.
There are millions of people living with Alzheimer's disease today who need attention as much as finding a cure does. These are individuals that are dealing with the illness now and unfortunately will likely not live to see a day where there is a cure for Alzheimer's disease. This is because, even though progress has been made, a cure is still rather far off in the horizon, and as a compassionate society we need to be making sure that the individual who has Alzheimer's disease now is getting the care that they need and deserve. This is something that many care and disease-centered organizations are continuing to focus on.
Compassion promotes human dignity. It dictates not only to provide more care, but better care and to believe that caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease is as important as caring for any other person with any other type of illness or disease. A new development for people with Alzheimer's. Compassion recognizes that caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease is simply different. Specialized and patient centered care is the key to success. With this notion as a driving force, some organizations today are looking to provide better services and are designing support programs for family members as well. We cannot deny the reality that Alzheimer's impacts the entire family. Compassion invites us to embrace and care for them as well.
While it may not be the most innovative approach, but clearly a necessary one for success, compassion is moving Alzheimer's disease to the top of the list on the national and global "things to get done today."
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