Alzheimer’s Events Deserve Support

Posted on October 18, 2008. Filed under: Boomer Health | Tags: , , , , |

Olavi Peters (1920-2005)

Olavi Peters (1920-2005)

There are few diseases that are more insidious than Alzheimer’s. Many people have heard about it and fortunately not as many have experienced the pain of watching a loved one deteriorate both mentally and physically due to its wrath.

The reality is that as we Boomers and our parents live longer we are more likely to witness or be a victim of the scourge of Alzheimer’s. As many have heard, there is no known cure. The best you can do is attempt to slow its progress. Physical exercise, mind-broadening exercises such as puzzles, learning a new language or weight management are thought to contribute to slowing or possibly delaying the inevitable if you or your family member is prone to having the disease.

I am in no way an expert on this ruthless illness. But I am an expert on the effect it can have on a family. The pain of a spouse of 60 plus years as the words spoken “are you my husband/wife?” The complete loss of reality that the victim has soiled himself, followed by the patient’s embarrassment when the family member realizes the situation and tries to help. The unwillingness to cooperate and lashing out at caregivers that are trying to assist the patient with daily requirements. Meals not eaten. Nights spent wandering the house. A good day is spent staring out the window watching the cars go by in relative calm. But then the mood swings take them to another place perhaps one never visited before when in full mind. The lost recollections of past accomplishments and celebrated events that are milestones in the normal memory.

But all this will pass as will the victim. When the passing occurs you hope that it is peaceful, and with the grace of God it will be.

But in too many cases the spouse is left to grieve and face a new life that is now empty, not just because a partner of 60 plus years is gone, but also because the hours of the day seem without direction. The hours had been occupied with care giving and worry and now that time seems without purpose.

There too can be a sense of guilt for feeling relief at last and for the times that he/she prayed for the passing. The emotion can be overbearing and many times causes a failure in the health of the care giver.

This overbearing burden is not without relief. From detection to advancement of the disease to death there is help and assistance. Here in the Phoenix, Arizona area we are fortunate to have an organization that has resources for coping, classes for understanding and access to professionals, medical and otherwise, for support and encouragement.

The Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has programs that I wish I had known of. They would have been a great deal of help. Would my old-country ethic, take-care-of-your-own, stoic and proud beyond belief caregiver parent have taken advantage of the service? Probably not. Would that parent have suffered a stroke three months after the spouse’s passing if they had taken advantage of the services? I don’t know. But I feel if some of the pressure had been relieved through the services available the chances would have been less.

So time moves on. The disease has claimed two victims. One gone, one remembering and functioning at a lesser level and waiting to join the life’s partner.

For all the above reasons we are pleased to bring attention to all the goods works of the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. And we as the Boomer and the Babe on our radio show will gladly support this organization. The West Valley Memory Walk is tomorrow, October 18th, at Beardsley Recreation Center in Sun City West. We will be there in honor of loved ones and their loved ones.

It’s everyone’s loss when Alzheimer’s strikes. Hopefully a cure will come soon.

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