Boomers Today Podcast about Doggies for Dementia ©
I was asked to be a guest on Frank Samson’s syndicated podcast, Boomers Today. Frank is a well known radio and podcast host and owner of Senior Care Authority. Of course! I am always happy to talk about the importance of raising awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of Dementia and is a debilitating neurological disease that worsens over time. More and more movies, documentaries, books and articles are coming out showing the human side of the disease.
Are We Ready?
Make no mistake, the disease is reaching epidemic stages and we as a world culture are not prepared for the emotional, societal and financial strain. So what do we do?
Advocating for Alzheimer’s Disease is different than most of the common diseases that impact us such as cancer and heart disease. Most advocates or those who can speak up about the impact and lobby for research dollars are those who have the disease, who have been ‘cured’, who have stories about how the money raised saved their lives and so on. Often times, the families are involved as well. With Alzheimer’s Disease, the person with the disease may not be able to advocate. Some in the earlier stages and especially those who have younger onset and can manage traveling are able to advocate for a time. They need someone to travel with them, make arrangements and be there to keep things going smoothly. Families are burdened by the care and if they had the energy to travel and/or advocate from home, they could not leave their loved one alone. The disease has a long course for most-often upwards of 10 years or more. Family and friends fade away.
What I Heard Changed My Life
One common issue for those impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease and loneliness and the feeling of being abandoned. I hear comments like “Nobody understands,” “I want to remember them the way they were” “I’m afraid of doing something wrong, so I just stay away.” This leaves families on their own often times. They’ve got a lot of questions and typically have no care giver experience. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease requires special skills in communication, attention and monitoring. I knew this after caring for families as a nurse practitioner for almost 40 years. I didn’t know the inside story until I stopped to listen and write Just See Me-Sacred Stories from the Other Side of Dementia.
What is Next?
Be the Voice! Those of us who can will be the voice. This means we work hard to show the human side of the disease including the difficult times and not excluding the love, compassion and care. We tell the stories and we advocate for equitable funding for research to find a cure and slow down the ravage of the disease. We stand beside families, many who cannot afford memory care ($4000+ a month) or private care to help them at home.
We are human. The more we know, even when it is tough to look at, the more we are apt to lend a helping hand. When there is less fear, we have more compassion, kindness and love. Isn’t this what we need? Just listening and adding a few kind words can make a huge difference.
Doggies for Dementia©
In the many years I cared for those impacted by dementia in the clinic, I hardly ever heard about loneliness or isolation. Sure, I heard about the appetite changes, sleep problems, memory loss, medication concerns and depression. Hardly ever did families talk about the loneliness and yet almost every family I have interviewed or photographed tell me they feel isolated. I finally asked, “Have you told anyone else?” Most feel hopeless-nothing can be done anyway so why bother.
When dementia arrives, families and friends fade much like the memories. We are afraid of what we don’t know.