Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Decoding Dementia...

"The Caregivers - A Support Group's Stories of Slow Loss, Courage and Love" by Nell Lake   Scribner   304 pages   $26

Lake is a writer and journalist who was invited to attend a caregiver support group's meetings and write their stories. 

The statistics are certainly grim for both caregiver and care receiver.   Lake points out that ironically enough, we are living much longer, but that spending much of that longer time dying of protracted diseases.  More than 5 million people have dementia and it's projected that by 2050 there will be 15 million living with the disease.  Of the 43 million Americans caring for another, 18 per cent of that number are adults caring for a family member who is older than 50.  Informal caregivers (family members) are the largest source of long-term care in the U.S. and they contribute nearly half a trillion dollars in unpaid labor. 

The book follows the group through the four seasons and tells of their problems, solutions and fatigue. 

I read along with interest, trying to determine what would be the most upsetting change if dementia struck someone close to me.  Dementia at onset doesn't change one's external appearance (except for normal aging) but the interior presence is an entirely different person.  And because I am unimaginative  (you've only to read this column regularly) I expect such things as:  the house stays on the street; my truck doesn't run off with an SUV and my friends and family are all just the same as they've ever been - ready for a laugh or a drink or a meal out.   The interior changes would probably do me in because I would want to put them back, so to speak, in their proper place on the shelves. 

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