June 25, 2013

Books to Help Caregivers - Alzheimer’s Patients Can Enjoy Life

Alzheimer's is typically considered a horrible, cruel and devastating disease that destroys those suffering from it, one that robs them of their very humanity.

However, experts on the disease share a somewhat different view. They unanimously agreed that although Alzheimer's is a terrible disorder, people who have it can and do still have the capacity to enjoy life, even though for those in the later stages of the disease, it may be only for relatively short periods at a time.

According to Virginia Bell and David Troxel, writing in The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's Care, "Too much attention has been paid to the 'tragic side' of Alzheimer's disease. This is a terrible disease. Yet, by dwelling on the negative it is too easy to victimize people with the illness and settle for lower standards of care."

When Teepa Snow, a nationally renowned expert on Alzheimer's caregiving, was asked if she thinks people with Alzheimer's can still enjoy life, she answered, "Yes. Almost all people with dementia, even those in the later stages of the disease, can enjoy life if they have the right support and environment."

The entire book, Creating Moments of Joy: A Journal for Caregivers, by Jolene Brackey, is dedicated to this issue. She writes, "We are not able to create a perfectly wonderful day with [people who have Alzheimer's], but it is absolutely attainable to create perfectly wonderful moments -- moments that put smiles on their faces, a twinkle in their eyes, or trigger [pleasant] memories."

A geriatric care manager who specializes in helping families with dementia issues, when asked the same question, answered, "Absolutely. They can and do enjoy life. That enjoyment, when it happens, is moment by moment -- pretty much the same way we enjoy life."

Tom and Karen Brenner, a husband and wife team of Alzheimer's caregiving experts, are the authors of You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello: The Montessori Method for Positive Dementia Care. They train family members, professional caregivers and medical staff in the use of cutting-edge interventions for persons who have dementia. Tom answered the question by saying, "Yes. And their enjoyment in life is based, in part, on our enjoyment of them. It's like a swinging door -- it goes both ways."