Nov 14, 2011

Alzheimers Caregivers are on the Job, and We are Ready to Rise to the Occasion

I often hear people say that a person suffering from Alzheimer’s is not the person they knew. I wonder to myself – Who are they then?”
- Bob DeMarco

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Bob DeMarco
I'm noticing that many of the comments I have made about Alzheimer's disease are starting to show up on other websites.

This morning I noticed via a Google alert that someone has the quote at the top of this page on their website. I went and took a look. Its right at the top of their page.

Wanna guess what the quote is next to?

A cover shot for a book -- Alzheimer's for Dummies.

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To be honest, I didn't know the book existed. I wonder if my quote is in the book?

I intend to write a book. It won't be for dummies. In fact I'll let you in on the title:

Alzheimer's World
How to understand, cope, and communicate 
with a person living with dementia

I will write more about my book ideas later.

One thing I want to say, I learned as Founder of this website that most Alzheimer's caregivers are striving to give to the person suffering from dementia the "highest" quality of life possible. I have the personal emails and comments on this website to back up that statement. More than 30,000.

This is our goal. Our shared goal.

In reference to the quote at the top. Every time, every single time, I hear someone say, "this is the not the person I knew", before I can even think these words jump out of my brain, "who are they then?"

When I first heard caregivers say, "this is not the person I knew", it angered me immediately. Over time, as I learned more about Alzheimer's caregivers, I changed the way I viewed those words.

The problem that occurs when a caregiver decides that the person living with Alzheimer's is no longer the person "they knew" is that they "dehumanize them." Let me ask you a simple question, are you going to be able to care effectively for someone you don't know?

From a rhetorical standpoint another awful thing happens when you dehumanize someone -- they more or less become an object. They become an object of scorn. They become a villain.

Imagine having to care for a villain, a villain you don't know.

The only way to overcome this is to learn, and get educated, on how to effectively understand, cope, and communicate with a person living with dementia.

The first important step is to come to the understanding that the behavior and acts you are seeing are part of the illness. These unnatural behaviors that we all deal with are symptoms of the disease.

These unnatural acts and behaviors are not intentional of the part of the person living with dementia. They cannot help what they are doing, their brain is sick and no longer functioning in the way we had come to expect.

So you see, this is the person you know. The same person. However, their brain is sick.

When I use to hear these words,

this is not the person I knew.

I use to get angry. Not anymore.

I now understand how and why it happens. I also know what can be done about it.

Most importantly I now know this, the majority of dementia caregivers are searching for help and information that will allow them to give to the person living with dementia

the highest quality of life possible.

I am confident when I write these words.

We are on the job, and we are ready to rise to the occasion.

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,101 articles with more than 452,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room