Friday, December 21, 2018
This week I'm back in Arizona and again immersed in the world of dementia. For those following this Blog, you may be aware my "last" parent, my mother, is on the rocky path of neurocognitive decline. Her path is different from my father's course, and that fact alone constantly makes me wonder "what is going on here?" Earlier this year, Mom moved into a dementia-specific assisted living center where my father was for three years before his passing in 2017, and in many ways this feels like coming home when I return. I get lots of hugs, from my mother of course, but also from other residents and long-time friends on the staff.
This center is a important counterpoint to all the stories about poor care in nursing homes. It isn't fancy --- and the choice of location was my mother's -- first when Dad needed more help, and then when we discussed options with Mom in the face of facts that showed a two story house was just plain unsafe for her as well. While she wasn't happy about the need to move, at the point of decision she was still able to remember this as a viable choice.
Every day my sister and I are thankful for the caring staff, the behavioral approach to care (no restraints and lots of activities that entertain and make days just a bit more fun), excellent food and a beautiful setting with lots of places to walk. The problem with this care center is not the "place."
The problem is the disease. The tedium of some days, the small and large ways in which someone can be annoyed, frustrated or embarrassed by needing help, the moments when even excellent care and the participation of family members cannot stop someone from crying, falling, hitting out, or sitting in sullen silence -- all of those problems are caused by dementia.
So it is welcome news to read that the House and the Senate have passed an "historic" spending bill, $100 million (in $20 million annual amounts, over 5 years), in support of dementia resources. The bill is now before the President. For early details about the bill, read McKnight's coverage, "Historic $100 Million Alzheimer's Bill."
Sounds like a lot of money, doesn't it? And it is, until you think about the furor over $5 billion for a wall.