Approach to Alzheimer’s
In other words, no drugs...
So, how does one deal with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? As I have read in one of my researches, the first thing to do is “Learn more”.
And so as I go on my quest of learning more, I stumbled upon a site (http://www.wisdem.org) that includes nonpharmacological approaches to dealing with AD. Nonpharmacological seems like such a big word, but in reality, it simply means, therapy that does not include drugs.
Of course, when we I first learned of my father’s AD, I wanted to know if he was taking medication and what drugs he was taking. What klnds of medicines is he taking? What do those drugs do to his body? Will they
really things better or simply prolong the agony?
My father needs to take those medicines – at least that what the doctor and my mother say. So is a non-drug treatment really a viable option?
In the end however, the decision of choosing whether to go with a drug-related treatment or the
nonpharmacological approach depends on the whole family. After all, we are the ones who are taking care of our loved ones suffering AD.
Focus on the individual
So, how does nonpharmacological approach work?
According to Wisdem, “nonpharmacological approaches comprise behavioral, communication and creative
interventions, supportive environmental design, and technological tools that:”
Engage people with dementia
Support their abilities to participate in society
Improve their daily life and quality of life
Build on their creativity
These interventions are aimed at supporting their right to dignity, self-fulfillment, participation, independence and care. Reading more on nonpharmacological approaches, I realized that this type of treatment has caught
on among families dealing with loved ones who have dementia or AD.
Wisdem notes “that at the core of nonpharmacological treatment is the neuroscience that indicates that
much remains alive and vital in the brain of a person living with dementia. Many of the 100 billion neurons and hard wired abilities in people’s brains remain healthy and accessible for years living with dementia. And this approach builds on these abilities.”
And so with nonpharmacological approaches, interventions or treatments focus more on the individual’s
interests, abilities, skills, disabilities and wishes, rather than the traditional general characteristics of people with AD or dementia.
Wisdom in dual approach
But it must also be pointed out that as various sites indicate: medical and nonpharmacological approaches are inseparable parts of caring for people living with the disease—and that they are not in conflict.
Wisdem’s site explains “that each model has its own distinct value and application in every conceivable health condition and illness such as: diabetes, HIV/aids, depression, mental illness, obesity, addiction. These illnesses and conditions are regularly treated with both medical and nonpharmacological approaches—more holistic, authentic and effective than employing only one approach—so why not dementia?”
I have to agree. I see the wisdom in this dual approach. After all, if we give a person with a heart condition
some drugs to take, do we not also tell them to slow down on certain food and maybe even change their lifestyle? To a certain extent, they’re the same – the disease might be different, but the approaches are the same.
This is a paradigm shift in medicine these days – many doctors we have met no longer restrict themselves
to traditional medicine, they are now also open to alternative treatments. All these interventions aim to help someone suffering from AD or dementia – and in the process, also help those who serve as caregivers of those suffering from the disease.