Spoke last week at the American Counseling Association’s national convention in Pittsburgh. My topic was, “There’s No Place Like Home: Caring for the Alzheimer’s Patient At Home.” Having cared for my grandmother for 13 years in our home, this is an issue both personal and philosophical.
In 20 years, the US is predicted to have 11 million people diagnosed w/ the disease. Add that number to the families & caretakers that will be involved & you have some idea what lies ahead of us. If we don’t figure out how to care for our elders in their final years with both dignity & compassion, as other cultures have done for centuries, America will be sadder for it. So will we. We are all going to die. If we are fortunate, we will all live to old age.
Our LAST chapter should be just as important as our FIRST one. Indeed, by then one hopes we will have added something real and of value to the world at large. Our babies, while precious and sacrosanct, have yet to offer us anything. That will come with time. Our elders have given us EVERYTHING and yet we abandon them in their last chapter. It is their loss. If they have Alzheimer’s, they will likely not even know it. But we know it and ultimately it is OUR loss. (http:// www.helen-hudson.com. Read the first chapter of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” my memoir of those 13 years with Granny).
Your grandmother was lucky to have a devoted granddaughter take care of her. Unfortunately it is often the spouse who ends up with this responsibility and with their own age related problems, it ends up being a huge stress and burden.
my dad had alzheimer’s as well. I assisted with his care at home. I admire and agree with your thought about our last chapter being as important or moreso than our first.