Taking Care of Demented Elderly, Who Can Help Share the Burdens of the Family Members?


Awhile ago, the Catholic Dementia Foundation invited a lot of the families along with the elderly who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to see the movie “Still Alice” with Julianne Moore.

The main character, Alice Howland was a namely linguist, intelligent and independent, with outstanding scholastic achievements, a family of bliss too.  But at the age of just fifty, she was diagnosed as having the early onset form of Alzheimer’s, which is highly hereditary, now only did she have to cope with the fact that she’s losing her basic living skills, as well as her job, she’s also heartbroken over how her own daughter too, had inherited the early onset form of the illness.

That day, I couldn’t help but wonder, I seemed to have become a person with dementia who was watching this movie, because there are some shocking similarities between me and the character, we’re both fifty years of age, and, gone through our master’s program and doctorates in Columbia University in the U.S., the buildings of the school resembled that of ancient Rome, people can easily lose their ways.  I too, am a college professor, and if I’d forgotten what I was lecturing on in class, I would’ve totally gotten bad remarks from the students’ end-of-year evaluations.

The female main character started consciously dealing with her own dementia, which is what I’d told my daughters, “if one day I became demented, you must always remember, that I love you so very much.”

In recent years, I’d worked in the dementia and Alzheimer’s prevention, and I got the chance of observing the troubles of the families with members who have this kind of early onset; especially direct next of kin such as a spouse, or children.  The time when the signs started showing up is usually in the fifties, and the caretakers who are usually the spouse or children, are still in the stages of their lives when they are working.  Just like the husband of the main character in the movie, as a doctor, he’d finally gotten an opportunity, to work at a namely clinic, that he needed to travel to a distant place, and he was faced with the decisions of whether or not to take his wife with him, or give up on the job opportunity.  In the movie, the husband chose to accept the new position of work, and, the youngest daughter who works at a theatre in California came back home to take care of the mother in New York.

This is prevalent in Taiwan, a lot of the caretakers can no longer put everything into work anymore, and are either forced to, or volunteered to reduce her/his workload, turn down the offers of promotions; and were forced to accept that one is no longer as able-bodied, getting demoted, and had even quitted ones’ own jobs.

And, this is the hardships that the caretakers, the family members of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia must adapt to, and, the article gave ways to keep the diagnosed elderly family members healthy like taking the elders to the parks, to increase the contact with the outside world, to socialize more…

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Filed under Awareness, Coping Mechanisms, Cost of Living, Dementia/Deterioration of the Mind, Family Matters, Issues of the Society, Social Issues

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