Interviews and Patient Vignettes
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Alzheimer’s Disease: The Patient’s Perspective
In an extraordinary interview, Shana, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, is able to express her awareness of the onset of cognitive and memory problems, her personal devastation at these losses and her acceptance of what lies ahead for her. As the interview with Dr. Peter Rabins triggers her memory, she recalls her world as a professional social worker and her satisfaction at helping others. Yet when trying to talk about her family, she struggles to remember the names of her children and grandchildren. Describing her day, she talks about: on-going frustration and losses; not being able to leave her home by herself; not being able to drive; and, not being able to continue the work she loved. Yet, Shana, at times slightly agitated, always reassures herself that one must accept the disease of Alzheimer’s and only do what remains possible.
This profile on Alzheimer’s disease is further developed by interviews with Shana’s husband and long term care staff working on an Alzheimer’s unit. Understanding Shana’s world of confusion, forgetfulness, and fear, provides a personalized introduction to the early days of Alzheimer’s and can be used by families, friends and professional caregivers to better understand the disease. Perhaps more important than all the words, is the beauty of Shana’s personality which shines through the disease, letting everyone know they’ve had the opportunity to meet a gentle and kind woman and she’s still Shana.
Topics: stage one alzheimer’s disease, family caregiving, frustration, memory loss, cognitive problems, dementia
Audience: family caregivers; professional caregivers in long term care, assisted living and day care; students in nursing programs; nursing assistant programs; allied health programs and social work.
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