Mar 14, 2010

Alzheimer's Disease Nobody Wants Our Dad

Three Daughters Battle Alzheimer's and the Healthcare System

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Angil Tarach-Ritchey wrote earlier about Living Alone with Dementia. She wonders who is going to take care of all the people suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia that don't have anyone. Or who have uncaring children.

Search the Alzheimer's Reading Room for Answers to Your Questions, and Solutions to Problems

This story is about three daughters who care -- Jennifer and Jodi Petersen, and Kristin Schmidt.

On one hand this story is wonderful, this Dad has three daughters that care. They want to help him. On other hand it is horrific. As Jodi Petersen says,

"Nobody wants our dad"
Richard Petersen, the Dad of these three wonderful women, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Through no fault of his own, Richard is mean. Because he is hard to deal with, nobody wants him. Only the few understand that dementia is a medical condition, not a psychiatric condition.

The Front Row

When Alzheimer's patients are mean they usually end up locked up in a county psychiatric facility or similar institution.

These patients are consider to be dangerous to themselves and every one around them. Usually they end up on anti-psychotic drugs. It doesn't seem to matter that there is substantial research indicating that these drugs often make matters worse with persons suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

So what happened to Richard? He was thrown out of his care facility -- nobody wants him. He bounced around a couple of times and then the police showed up at his last stop and arrested him.

Are Alzheimer's Caregivers the Forgotten?

This story doesn't get any better. Richard Petersen's ended up in the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, where he has been placed under emergency detention by court order.
"It is not unusual and unfortunately people are treating the natural process of aging as if it was a psychiatric disorder, where senior citizens need to be locked up in psychiatric units, where what they really need is a good geriatrician," said Patricia M. Cavey, an attorney who specializes in elder law and who has consulted with the Petersen family.
While locked up Richard contracted pneumonia. It might be too late to do anything.

When I read this story, I wondered to myself if the story might have gone differently if the daughters were subscribers to the Alzheimer's Reading Room? I wondered if they would have reached out here for help, advice, or insight. There are a minimum of ten readers on this website that are familiar with these kinds of situation and know what to do in these situations.

I thought about Judy Berry. Judy went through a difficult situation with her mother. Judy understands how difficult it is to deal with Alzheimer's patients suffering from behavioral problems. This lead her to found the Lakeview Ranch. The Lakeview Ranch is for dementia patients that nobody wants.

Would it have made a difference? It is impossible to know, everything happened so fast to these three women and their dad. I wish we would have had the opportunity to find out.

This story is one of the reasons that I continually ask subscribers to share information, so that other caregivers can find us. Just in case.

To read the detailed, well written story about Richard and his wonderful daughters -- go here.

Related Articles

5 Best Memory Tests for Alzheimer's and Dementia

Communicating in Alzheimer's World

Routine and the Importance of the First Action of the Day in Dementia Care

1 Fact About Alzheimer's That Remains a Mystery

The Frightened, Angry, Anxious, Mean Dementia Patient

10 Tips for Communicating with an Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room