The truth: Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases are always a burden on loved ones. The lesser-known truth: Dealing with the diseases can provide positive impacts of a temporary or even lasting nature.
Joan Cohen is passionate about spreading awareness surrounding Alzheimer’s disease. “We’re talking about the sixth leading cause of death, and it’s the only one that can’t be cured, prevented or slowed,” the Stockbridge resident shared in a recent phone interview. Cohen’s debut novel, “Land of Last Chances” (Aug. 13, She Writes Press), seeks to illuminate the challenges of those suffering from the disease.
“You may have somebody who can’t still do verbal language, but you put music on them and they will start to sing, so there’s some type of recognition that’s still there and we don’t truly understand all of it but we know it’s there and it works,” said Avantara Saint Cloud Alzheimer’s Care Director Shauna Gunnells.
When John Searle started to fall down and lose his memory, he thought it was the early signs of dementia. But it turns out he has a rare – and often undiagnosed – condition called normal pressure hydrocephalus. The good news is it’s treatable.
A survey released this week by the Alzheimer’s Association finds that nearly 90 percent of Americans say they would want others to tell them if they were showing signs of memory loss or other symptoms of dementia. And yet, nearly three quarters of Americans say having that conversation would be “challenging” for them.
The majority of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease fit into a certain stereotype: senior citizens well over age 65, primarily women. For many people, this “senility” is not surprising. It’s even expected. But when the afflicted person is younger – in the prime of life – people are confused. Family members may be upset or angry. Doctors often are at a loss for a diagnosis.
As our population ages (by 2050, Alzheimer’s is projected to affect nearly 14 million Americans age 65 and older), we will increasingly need to answer the question: What are the boundaries of commitment and love when one partner can no longer remember the other or comprehend their shared history?
Therapy dolls have been presented to the patients because they can provide a sense of calm for when they get anxious or stressed.
“We had dolls for the females and males,” the initiative taker said. “We chose dolls because it actually helps calm them down when they get stressed or anxiety when they start to wander. It also helps the caregiver.”