An Oscar for "Still Alice" is shining the brightest light yet on Alzheimer's, but light isn't enough anymore. Attention isn't enough. It's time to get serious. Alzheimer's is exerting a powerful impact on American families -- on our health, our finances, and our futures. And women are disproportionately impacted.
One of the best things that any Alzheimer's caregiver can do is to educate themselves. It is important to be educated both on Alzheimer's disease and on the ins and outs of being a caregiver. Any successful caregiver should be up-to-date with the latest caregiving strategies and know the ins and outs of Alzheimer's disease and what changes it brings.
Nonprofit research foundations are creating innovative ways for scientists to find resources and the assistance they need to advance their research. Central among these innovations: a growing online marketplace -- a veritable Match.com for scientists -- that may help researchers to discover the next drug to treat Alzheimer's disease.
My mother reacts very sensitively to my feelings and moods. That is typical of Alzheimer's patients. When I visit her feeling hectic and tense, she reacts immediately, takes on my mood, and becomes nervous and negative. But when I am cheerful and attentive, she is happy. This has taught me to be much more aware of myself and my feelings when I am with other people.
And so, we need to push back with a battering ram against the stereotype that Alzheimer's is merely the horrid, inevitable final stage. While the end stage is devastating, the beginning and middle stages become a lonely, painful journey, the long kiss goodbye, which often begins 15 to 20 years before diagnosis. It robs one of self. It infantilizes. Alzheimer's is not your grandfather's disease. It could be your story some day.