Instinctively when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the family immediately starts looking for ways to heal their loved one. Understandably, they grasp onto any thread of hope they can find. And there is no shortage of misguided hope out there.
Everywhere you look you see ways to fix Alzheimer’s
How can a distraught family ignore these solutions when media giants write articles touting a cure only to use disclaimers such as “may help” constantly throughout the article? Who the heck cares what may help. Things that used to kill us, eggs and coffee for example, are now good for us. Nobody knows. The hype plays on our emotions – our need to save our loved one.
Dementia isn’t the only place where companies exploit our emotions. I’ve witnessed this with a person dying from liver damage, someone dying from cancer, and people go through it with dying pets; you hear about this miracle herb that cleanses the body and worked for someone’s brother’s friend’s wife’s mom’s cat. How come we never actually meet these people?
Related TinT Resource:
Alzheimer’s Disease: Prevention
Hype plays on a caregiver’s emotions
Our emotions make us vulnerable. Bad people and big business know this so they exploit us with their miracle cures, and the media spreads the hype to attract viewers or readership.
Unfortunately, once a person (or pet ) has been diagnosed with a terminal illness – it’s too late. Ok, sure we hear about the cancer survivor that had only 6 months to live 10 years ago and just ran a marathon but we have never heard about the Alzheimer’s patient that beat the odds and survived; not yet, anyway.
Hurry to eat curry to stave off Alzheimer’s
I hear it all the time. For instance, somebody has read an article about how curry has been identified to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Hmm (I’m making my skeptic face). This herb is a main ingredient in the diet of this small village in some remote part of India.
Ok, two points: first, if the herb has this potential, don’t you think it likely needs to be a regular part of our diet from a young age? Do we think we can go home and sprinkle a ton of this stuff on our meals and catch up? I don’t think so.
Second, isn’t it very likely that other environmental factors may be the secret? Maybe it’s because these people don’t have TVs and maids, so they don’t sit around on their butts all day. They work hard – pumping valuable oxygen through the capillaries of the brain; feeding their cells which keep their brains healthier.
There are no miracle cures
Of course you are still going to purchase that special herb or drug, and you are going to get your loved one into a clinical trial, but unfortunately, much, if not all, of this hope is bogus. I’m not saying clinical trials aren’t good (they are extremely important when conducted properly) but I do believe they give false hope. Like cancer and HIV, Alzheimer’s is much too complicated for a simple solution. Gosh, how many times have we heard that we had beaten cancer and HIV?
Related TinT Article:
Preventing Alzheimer’s Beyond a Heart-healthy Regimen
Everything in life eventually wears down
I’m sure somewhere there is some scientific formula that proves this. Cars break down. Hearts break down. Knees break down. When these thing break, what do we do? We swap parts to keep them going.
Now a days, we swap the entire heart or knee. But you can’t do that (at least not yet) with the human brain. After all, how are you going to transfer all of the memories – it’s not like the brain is comprised of 1’s and 0’s.
Let’s be honest, we all know the answer: Like a car, the best way to get additional miles from our bodies is through proper use and maintenance. But even with regular oil changes and proper driving, the motor is still eventually going to wear out. You need to accept this fact so that you can get on with adapting to the disease.
Stop looking for a miracle now
Let the other 15M U.S. caregivers spend their time searching. Let the researchers spend millions.
I realize this is all a bit of a downer, but acceptance that there is no cure is a major hurdle that you must overcome. The longer you delay, the more time will be lost that you could have spent enriching the life of your loved one.
And while we may not be able to cure the disease, I do believe the progression can be slowed, in some people, when there is ongoing engagement with the individual.
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Feature image (Cans of Hype) by Pnut10 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons