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A New Alzheimer’s bible for professionals and family caregivers.

Posted Feb 25 2009 4:23pm

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Having walked the caregiving road beside my father as he journeyed into Alzheimer’s (see "Where’s my shoes?" My Father’s Walk through Alzheimer’s ), I found P. Murali Doraiswamy, MD and Lisa P. Gwyther’s, MSW approach to The Alzheimer's Action Plan to be both comprehensive and compassionate.

 

Whether you’re the caregiver or the one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; you will find The Alzheimer’s Action Plan to be a dignified and compassionate guide along the road ahead.

 

There is so much genuinely helpful information in this book that if I mentioned everything worth noting here, I’d risk writing another book!

 

Highlights from this nearly 500-page bible for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and those who have been diagnosed early in the disease cycle:

*     Maintaining social connections through volunteerism, family activities, or other in later years in order to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s (assuming health, education, stress variables are equal).

*     Nine common behaviors and tips to handle them—such as the abstract concept of time (losing sense of time) or accusations of betrayal.

*     You (the caregiver) deserve care too, plus the one-minute respite (pages 257-260). I’ve long advocated the five-minute respite for caregivers who feel too busy to take a break.

*     What to expect during and making the most of your doctor’s appointment. Chapter 5 will save you lots of stress and frustration.

*     Medications for depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and the worst behavioral symptoms. Chapters 14 & 15 provide life-saving information; particularly, when some prescribed medications (e.g., Haldol) may not be as well tolerated by older care recipients (especially those living with Alzheimer’s) versus another (e.g., Ativan). Take this book with you when you see the doctor and ask the questions noted on page 317.

*     Heartfelt and workable ideas to meet the challenges of bathing or dressing (p. 244).

*     Reasons to move your care recipient. Two targeted and very helpful pages (pages 274-276).

 

If there’s one area that could use more attention it is the one that addresses sexual issues. I recall my father’s behaviors had a profound and lasting effect on me. Although, The 36 Hour Day only devotes a page-and-a-half, while "Where's my shoes?" devotes an entire chapter to sexuality and Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer's Action Plan devotes about 5 pages or 1% of the entire book to this topic. Still the authors handle sexuality respectfully and with kindness (p. 201-2, 255-7 and 393).

 

 

Doraiswamy and Gwyther offer a Top 40 Q &A section divided across six subject areas. The compassion with which each response is offered reflects thoughtful and heartfelt consideration from both the caregivers and care recipient’s perspectives.

 

Caregivers are urged to start reading this book by scanning the index for the topics they need information on now instead of trying to read the entire book. Like the Bible, this book is best digested in pieces, applied, then reviewed.

 

A must read for all family caregivers of loved ones with dementia, those diagnosed with early stage dementia, and for all physicians, nurses, and social workers whose clients include those diagnosed with dementia.




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