I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
- Albert Schweitzer, Missionary
All real living is meeting.
- Martin Buber, Philosopher
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat . . .We must find each other.
- Mother Theresa, Saint
Nothing is more revealing than movement.
- Martha Graham, Dancer
If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.
- Loretta Girzartis, Author
Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.
- Christopher Columbus, Explorer
A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.
- Lin Yutang, Writer
They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.
- Bil Keane, Cartoonist
In American life, we think we are most free when we don't need anybody. Exactly what Alzheimer's represents is absolute dependency - That's what we all need to learn - how deeply we need one another.
- Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- William James, Philosopher
You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
- A. A. Milne, Author (Winnie the Pooh)
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essayist
Memory Bridge Newsletter
10/10/08 - The Science of Touch
This summer, I went to ICAD (the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease). Almost all the presentations at the conference were about molecular biology. They dealt with proteins and genes, and the inner workings of brain cells. Sitting in dark conference rooms watching these presentations, it was easy to lose sight of the real-life problems of people with dementia and their caregivers.
But I went to two sessions about research on how to improve the lives of people with dementia and their caregivers. It turns out that caregiving is as much a science as it is an art! Here's what I learned:
· A set of programs known as the Seattle Protocols focuses on how to reduce the depression, agitation, sleep disturbances, and physical problems sometimes associated with dementia. The methods and techniques that make up the Seattle Protocols, including exercise programs and "behavioral management" techniques, have been tested in clinical trials, and are now taught to facilities-based and home-based caregivers.
· Preliminary research shows a combination of measures such as changes in diet, reducing light in bedrooms at night, scheduling enjoyable activities during the day, and limiting daytime napping appear to reduce sleep disturbances in people with dementia.
· There's no substitute for the human touch. But technology, if adapted to the needs of people with mild dementia, can make everyday living easier. Even for people with more severe memory loss, "Intelligent Home" technology can guide them through everyday activities such as hand washing after using the toilet or remembering to take medicines, and can recognize an emergency and call for help. Research on the design and use of this type of technology is in the early stages.
· Scientists are also studying whether Web-based communication can extend the positive results of short-term training for caregivers.
· Clinical trials show that people with mild dementia can still learn, and can maintain improvements in functionality gained from participating in scientifically designed cognitive rehabilitation programs.
· Antipsychotic medicines are used to manage dementia-related agitation and anxiety, but they aren't always effective, and any benefits are often outweighed by their serious side effects. Research shows that nondrug treatments such as aromatherapy, bright light therapy, and caregiver education may be effective alternatives.
This kind of research doesn't usually make the headlines. But for millions of people with memory loss and their caregivers, the science of caregiving is as important as the search for a cure.