The Harsh Realities of Alzheimer's Care: An Insider's View of How People with Dementia Are Treated in Institutions

The Harsh Realities of Alzheimer's Care: An Insider's View of How People with Dementia Are Treated in Institutions

The Harsh Realities of Alzheimer's Care: An Insider's View of How People with Dementia Are Treated in Institutions

The Harsh Realities of Alzheimer's Care: An Insider's View of How People with Dementia Are Treated in Institutions

Synopsis

A prominent geriatric psychiatrist details the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of places where those with dementia are treated- from emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals to assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

• Vignettes and experiences from author's practice illustrate strategies that will improve quality of life for caregivers and their loved ones

Excerpt

In part because of the terrible nature of dementia, which strips a person of his or her memories and dignity, I strongly believe I can contribute in a meaningful way to alleviating the suffering and distress that dementia causes. Consider a letter I received from the daughter of a nursing home resident with dementia that I treated recently. (I have changed their names to protect their privacy, as is true for all cases presented in this book.) Rather than emphasizing medication changes for her mother’s behavior problems, I recommended that she consider moving her mother to another facility that I believed would be a better fit for her. This is something I do infrequently, in part because moving in and of itself is potentially burdensome and stressful to a person with dementia. But each nursing home has its own unique culture, its own quirks, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. No nursing home is perfect, and it’s exceedingly difficult to predict who will succeed at which particular home. But in this case, I went out on a limb and fortunately my intuition proved correct, as recounted in the following letter.

Dear Dr. Rosenzweig,

My name is Mary Smith. You had cared briefly for my mother, Mary Williams.
During her evaluation at Sunny Acres Nursing Home in August 2009, you sug
gested she be moved as soon as possible to the Heartland Commons Nursing
Home. After speaking with Dr. Clark (her attending physician) she was immedi
ately placed on a waiting list. Six weeks later she was transferred to a much kinder
facility. I had such concern about taking her to the unknown but had many sleep
less nights while she was at the first location. My mom had worked many years as
a nurse at a wonderful nursing home. We had never planned she would reside in
one. After a seizure she was left with very little memory declaring her unsafe. As
soon as she arrived to Heartland Commons she began to have some freedom,
independence, and happiness return. I have such empathy for families dealing
with aging parents. The use of medications and chemical restraints is more

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