Jan 23 2013

Be Prepared for the Battle Against Alzheimer’s

Today’s Diane Rehm Show featured a segment on “the Ongoing Battle Against Alzheimer’s,” which explored the common, yet debilitating, brain disease.

Approximately five and a half million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease; and this number is growing rapidly as the baby boomer generation gets older. Suffering from Alzheimer’s is traumatic for both patients and their families, and providing quality care can be both emotionally and financially taxing.

As part of her ongoing Mind and Body Series, Diane Rehm hosted three experts on Alzheimer’s to elaborate on its effect on the brain and the current effort to find medications that can treat or prevent the disease.

Towards the end of the show, a woman named Jennifer called in to point out that palliative specialists, like herself, are tasked with working with Alzheimer’s patients and their families at every step of the illness, with the specific goal of creating a care plan which accommodates the patient’s personal goals and values. By putting the patient first, she explained that specialists can give individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s the support they need throughout the trajectory of the illness, not just at the end of their lives.

In response, George Vradenburg, co-founder and chairman of US Against Alzheimer’s, said that just as we plan in advance for financial expenditures, such as sending children to college or buying a house, we must also plan for the future of our health care. There may come a time when we are unable to competently articulate our preferred medical treatment not because of an inability to speak, but because of a deteriorated mental state.

We agree.

This is why we made sure to allow you to declare whether or not you would like to prevent “future you” from overruling your advance medical directive if you are ever diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or otherwise afflicted by a deteriorated mental state.

Learn more about advance medical directives here or get started on your own directive here.  Also, make your voice heard and join the conversation with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.


Advance Care Planning Alzheimer’s Diane Rehm NPR

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