I hated Alzheimer's for invading our lives and stealing away my great-grandmother. I hated it for making my mother cry and forcing us all to confront the inescapable finale. But I needed this disease and my great-grandmother to tell me I did not know everything.
Recently, I have been visiting my old friend and literary colleague, Anita Cornwell, 89, who has dementia and is in a nursing home. She has been several stages of care at the same nursing home and is now in hospice. Anita is one of the lucky ones.
Hearing the word "intimacy'' can often make people uncomfortable, and many people do not like talking about it. Yet, it is an issue that surfaces in many ways in the journey of dementia, impacting relationships and adding challenges to the caregiving role.
On the morning of April 2, the president announced to a gathering of luminaries in the East Room of The White House a new and ambitious, decade-long research effort to uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders.
Caregivers need to find ways to decrease their stress levels in order to remain physically healthy and maintain their emotional welfare. Getting outdoors and taking a walk every day can be a great way to reduce stress.
I encourage all spouses to seek answers. When we know what we are dealing with, we have the opportunity to create an adventure, rather than succumb to a disaster. Be brave. The life of your loved one depends on it.
Sometimes Alzheimer's patients who can't even recall whether they had lunch -- let alone what they ate -- can remember the melodies of songs from their youth and young adult years. Anyone who has observed a sing-along in a nursing home has seen this.
In the end, it may turn out that attacking today's biomarkers may not prevent Alzheimer's. The answer, though, won't be known unless the FDA revises its rules, a gamble we may want to take given the alternative.
As a caregiver, you use your heart to provide compassionate comfort and support to a loved one. Now use your head -- if you become ill or too exhausted to continue to care, what will become of your loved one and of you?
My Dad will never know my daughter. And that breaks me in two. He will never speak her name. He will never hold her tiny digits. He will never cry for joy at her mere presence in a room. And yet he is still here. He is alive.
While cardio respiratory fitness has not yet been proven to have a direct effect on halting the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, if a causal connection is found it would have a huge impact on our aging population, as well as the health of our economy.
My biggest fear is knowing that one day, he will no longer remember my name or who I am. I do all I can to prepare for this moment, but I know, when that time comes, it will be the worst day of my life.
One of the most basic human needs is to feel loved, and Valentine's Day presents the perfect opportunity for caregivers to meet this need for someone with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.
We often equate knowledge with power: The more we know, the better we are able to make decisions. Unfortunately, there are cases where ignorance really may be bliss, and Alzheimer's isn't the only one.