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Myth about Alzheimer’s:
Time for Critical Thinking and Action?
Special Contribution
Dr. Ethelle Lord
Dr. Ethelle Lord

Over 36 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s with an estimated 600+ billion dollars in health care costs last year (WebMD). It is estimated three quarters; 24 million of 36 million people live with Alzheimer’s but have not yet been diagnosed. This means that not all persons living with Alzheimer’s are benefitting from early treatment and furthermore, from appropriate caregiving. According to Dr. Whitehouse:

# 1: Medical experts do not know how to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and clinical diagnosis is only “probable”;

#2: A “definite” diagnosis of Alzheimer’s after death is itself questionable;

#3: According to Dr. Whitehouse and if Alzheimer’s mirrors a normal brain aging, then arresting the natural process of brain aging may be the only reasonable cure for Alzheimer’s;

#4: Critical thinking tells us that if Alzheimer’s cannot be differentiated from normal brain aging (cognitive decline), why all the pressure to find a cure. Why not look at prevention and living a healthier lifestyle instead;

#5: Brain aging (Alzheimer’s) is manageable. Rather than fight Alzheimer’s as a disease and look for a cure, should we study how to maximize the quality of life of the person living with Alzheimer’s as well as train/support the caregivers (Whitehouse, 2008)?

“Defining brain aging as a disease and then trying to cure it is at its root unscientific and misguided. In short, Alzheimer’s is a hundred-year old myth that is over the hill…” (Whitehouse, 2008, p. 6). Accepting Dr. Whitehouse’s position, we can turn to managing Alzheimer’s better by providing adequate caregiving services to those already living with Alzheimer’s, and by promoting healthier lifestyles for everyone. It is a change in perspective that seems logical if we accept that Alzheimer’s is simply normal brain aging.

Caregiving is facing a crisis today largely due to the influx of persons living with Alzheimer’s worldwide. In several countries caregivers have free access to an Alzheimer’s care crisis line to call in case of an emergency while many countries do not. The quality of care provided to the person with Alzheimer’s remains the number one issue.

Not all caregivers are created equal. Caregivers come in all sizes and shapes, with different cultural backgrounds, and with a variety of abilities to provide the care required of them.

Since most caregivers are largely unprepared to assume the responsibilities of caregiving for a person with Alzheimer’s; come untrained or under trained in such specialized needs; and are overworked while unpaid for the services rendered (especially the family caregiver who often has to quit gainful employment or change everything about their own life) ~ it is fair to ask: Who is providing support for the caregivers?

Reference:
Whitehouse, P.J. (2008). The Myth of Alzheimer’s: What you aren’t being told about today’s most dreaded diagnosis. NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.

About the author:
Ethelle G. Lord has her Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix (2010). Dr. Lord is an adjunct Professor of Organizational Behavior and author. She has her own Alzheimer’s coaching and consulting business at Remembering for You (dot) Com and Teamwork Coaching (dot) Com. From 1992-1996 she had a private practice in mental health counseling; in the late 80s she was a paralegal for Legal Services for the Elderly; and from 1992-1996 she was a two-term President of the Maine Gerontological Society of Maine. Ethelle is married to Maj. Larry S. Potter, USAF Retired and lives in Maine. Visit us today at http://remembering4you.com and contact the author at Info@remembering4you.com




 

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