Putting a Positive Spin on Dementia

Recent polls show that Alzheimer’s has taken over the top spot from cancer as the number one fear of seniors. While this can be a terrible and scary disease, some people are taking a much lighter view of the disease and it appears to be helping.

Our take: Everyone handles problems in their own way and I am sure that this humorous/light-hearted approach will not work for everyone.  The people-centered approach is consistent with what we are teaching at AlzBetter. Currently, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s so maybe it could not hurt to add some humor to the situation and see if it helps.

A recent article in the Washington Post shows how several people are using this humorous approach in an article called “Changing ‘the tragedy narrative’: Why a growing camp is promoting a joyful approach to Alzheimer’s”

Ollie is their nickname for Alzheimer’s, the disease Tom was diagnosed with seven years ago. For the Misciagnas, Ollie is a third presence in the house, one they never invited in. But since he’s here, they’re making room for him. And though it might seem counterintuitive, they are even trying to have fun with him.

That approach — giving the illness a nickname, smoothly zigging after hitting a zag — puts the Misciagnas in a growing camp of people determined to approach dementia care differently, coming at it with a sense of openness, playfulness and even wonder.

It is in stark contrast to earlier generations of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers, who saw the disease as something to be hidden. Even now, fewer than half of Alzheimer’s patients are told they have it, according to a 2015 Alzheimer’s Association report, and a 2012 study found it surpassed cancer as the disease Americans fear most. It has been swathed in shame, stuck in what Bill Thomas, a geriatrician who is working to change attitudes about old age, calls “the tragedy narrative.”

The full article can be read here

 

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