Caregivers Victims in Rising Tide of Dementia
Caregivers are unrecognized victims caught in the rising tide of Alzheimer’s disease, says advocate Dan Gasby in an editorial published online by Neurology® , the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Gasby has been caring for his wife, B. Smith, a nationally recognized celebrity chef, supermodel and lifestyle maven, since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013.
In the editorial, “Alzheimer Dementia’s Other Victim – The Spouse,” Gasby provides an unvarnished account of his marriage under the devastating influence of Alzheimer’s, where everything has changed—from the couple’s business partnership to their sexual relationship.
From my experience as a caregiver, I know that brain disease robs sufferers of their dreams and ambitions and of their hopes and even their homes,” said Gasby, who co-authored the moving memoir, “Before I Forget” with his wife. “We must recognize that the devastation extends to the caregiver, the other victim in this epidemic.”
Gasby chronicles the emotionally and physically draining life of the caregivers:
“It’s a fact that when you see an iceberg, no matter how large, only one-fifth is seen above the surface. That which is unseen constitutes the bulk of its true mass. Some days are worse than others. Hearing, ‘I hate your guts!’ from your spouse pierces your very being. Yes, I know it’s not her, it’s the disease, but I’m still human and still feel it. For the at-home caregivers, Alzheimer’s is nothing short of domestic torture.”
An estimated 5.5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease. The cost of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient ranges from $20,000 to $90,000 annually according to estimates. Spouses and relatives often give up their jobs to provide care for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, yet another staggering cost that goes unrecognized.
Gasby’s editorial points to research and advocacy for brain health as his sources of hope. He took his message to Capitol Hill on October 10, World Mental Health Day, where he provided testimony in a Congressional briefing on “Healthy Aging: The Connection…Diabetes, Obesity, and Dementia.” The briefing was sponsored by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in cooperation with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
In January, Gasby joined forces with the American Brain Foundation, serving as a director on a board that includes world-renowned neurologists, a former NFL Super Bowl champion, Vice President Walter Mondale (Honorary Chair) and Susan Schneider Williams, artist and widow of late actor and comedian Robin Williams.
Are you a caregiver or want to help a caregiver, please consider our Caregiver Smile Summit. 51 experts cover 53 topics in all aspects of caregiving designed to make your journey easier and your health better. Register here.
Alcohol and Alzheimer’s – OK to Drink But Like Everything in Moderation
Leave it to German researchers to conduct a study where they found that elderly adults who consume about two alcoholic beverages per day are at a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than non-drinkers. Alcohol and Alzheimer’s – who knew?
Researchers said that study subjects were 30% less likely to develop dementia, and 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
The study sampled 3,200 German seniors aged 75 and older. At the start of the study, none of the participants had dementia. Over the course of three years, participants were occasionally interviewed about their drinking habits and evaluated for signs of dementia. During that time, 217 participants were diagnosed with some form of dementia.
Researchers surmised that older men and women who drink alcohol sensibly in old age also have a healthier lifestyle in terms of physical, dietary, and mental perspectives. The study was published in the journal Age and Aging.
So is it really the drinking or the fact that responsible adults take better care of themselves.
I’m going with the drinking!!!!
Fun and Different Activities for Seniors – Charlotte Today
Seeking out engaging and fun activities for seniors? Forget the novelties of gardening and golfing, and try a little something new with these fun ideas! This segment is from my appearance on the Charlotte Today Show. We discussed different categories of activities – exercise, activities that stimulate creativity, those that engage people socially, those that have a charity component, and finally those that contribute to lifelong learning. Take a look and try some for yourself.
Estate Planning is not Just for the Rich
Estate planning is misnamed, because it implies that one must have extensive assets to even consider an estate plan. That is not true.
“Everyone needs an estate plan because it is simply about control and protecting the ones that you love,” according to my friend Wendy Witt.
As she emphasized, it’s not just for the rich. It’s about creating a set of instructions so people know what to do and when if you’re not there to tell them anymore. It’s more than about money. It’s about making sure your kids are protected and cared for, making sure your wishes are carried out and yes, even keeping peace in the family she says.