The diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease
is one of the most devastating a family can receive about a family member. It
ultimately means that unless some other problem kills the person sooner,
eventually that person won't even know who his family members are. As
Alzheimer's patients say, they lose their "self."
The book has an emphasis on family
care giving. It states:
After the diagnosis is made, an
individual may live five, ten, or fifteen years or more. These are long human
years. Therefore, it is important to set realistic goals, involve appropriate
family members to make plans together, find appropriate professional help, and
prepare for the future and all the changes it will bring. If the patient and
family as well as fictive kin and close friends are able to prepare themselves
to deal with the future, there is time to live and love, despite the ravages of
a progressive brain disease. [Page 23]
The authors provide fifteen fact
filled chapters. The first 3 deal with "The Loss of Self", "The
Diagnosis of Dementia" and "Reactions to the Diagnosis". The
steps to diagnosing this disease are carefully outlined. Since there is no
medical test that can diagnose this disease, the doctor must rule out other
possibilities before coming up with this particular diagnosis. Unfortunately,
it can take time and be frustrating for the family members trying to provide
necessary care for the patient.
Chapter 4, "Setting Goals
after the Diagnosis," provides 8 guidelines for coping with the future.
These guidelines are (quoted from section titles):
- Find Competent and Compassionate Mental Health
- Find a Confidant.
- Hold Regular Family Meetings to Discuss How the Patient is
Functioning and Try to Anticipate Future Changes.
- Do Not Blame the Patient or Yourself When Things Go Wrong
and Your Frustration Level is High.
- Try to Sustain or Develop a Sense of Humor.
- When You Talk with Your Relative, It Is Sometimes More
Important to Listen and Observe Than to Speak.
- Honesty is the Only Basis for a Relationship with Your
- Just as Parents Provide Consistency, Love, Security, and a
Sense of Order for Children, So Do Family Members Provide a Stable
Emotional Environment for the Patient.
Following these guidelines will
help the family survive this medical crisis. If they combine these guidelines
with the suggested sixteen goals, both the patient and the family can continue
to thrive in spite of the mental difficulties.
The remaining chapters talk about
the drugs that may possibly help these patients and explains the pros and cons
of such treatment. Then several chapters provide an indepth discussion of
family care followed by chapters on nursing homes and their cost if that should
prove necessary. The final chapter deals with death and dying, the ultimate
end of all human beings.
Recommendation: This is a
comprehensive book that should be on your shelf or at your fingertips if you
have a family member with Alzheimer disease or one of the other dementia
disorders. It suggests things you can do to help you be prepared to help with
everything from bill paying to finding a nursing home.
© 2003 Diana