I’m Still Here is the name of a book by John Zeisel. I’ve twice written about the book and author, but what brings them to mind again is a recent article in The New York Times: Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate. Posted on the last day of 2010, the article seems a fitting way to close out the “old way” of looking at Alzheimer’s care and ushering in a “new way”, more in line with Zeisel’s approach.
This “new” approach, which seems so common sense based, strives to bring out the best in Alzheimer’s patients by nurturing their desires, likes and personalities. This approach guides how caretakers at Beatitudes manage the care of their Alzheimer’s residents, and the results have been formidable. There are other care facilities, both in the States and in Europe, as well as research programs, that implement similar approaches.
In all cases, the results show that the lives of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are measurably improved when they are cared for with their (the patient’s) best interests at heart. This translates to finding out more about the individual and assisting the individual in being more themselves – the person they were before the illness attacked. Furthermore, it turns out that most of the drugs for behavior modification and control can be stopped because patients become calm when they are able to revisit portions of themselves. This then allows doctors to hone in on treating depression, which often besets dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
If you know of anyone who has a relative with dementia or Alzheimer’s, I urge you to share the Times article with them, as well as Zeisel’s book. What a way to truly start a “new year”!
Postscript – Apropos of one of the comments on this post, the January 13, 2011 New York Times contains the article China, in a Shift, Takes On Its Alzheimer’s Problem.