Monday, May 25, 2020

Alzheimer’s and Dementia disease are not CONTAGIOUS!

One of the biggest 
misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia is that it is contagious! I’m here to tell you NO, it is not. A few years ago I read an article about a surgeon that had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; his colleges didn’t know how to interact with him. His friends stopped visiting him, his wife was saddened to witness this, his social circle diminished significantly. In that same article the wife shared how one of his friends shared with her that, he felt uncomfortable visiting him and that he was very concerned that it might happen to him. This is a very common reaction once the person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Dementia one’s social circle shrinks. And these people were supposedly educated and had research about the disease readily available to them.

It upsets me so much to see this, I take it very personally and it offends me. Not only because my mom has Frontal Temporal Dementia with a nice sprinkle of Alzheimer’s disease. In my previous job, we used to witness the discrimination of our resident’s constantly; the peculiar and unexpected side of this was that it was coming from their peers. Several times I was told by a visitor, “I don’t want to sit to close to them” or “I’m not like them”. Whenever we used to give tours of our Day Program, we could see the disgust written all over some visitor’s faces. Now mind you, our Day Program was a cute little cottage situated on the grounds of a high-end Senior Community, we were independent of said community. One of the biggest advantages we had was taking group walks on their amazingly well-landscaped grounds, which included a beautiful pond that had the cutest gazebo. Our center was decorated with a functional Victorian theme, it was the vision of our founder to have a home-like atmosphere, and He didn’t want it to resemble a clinic or a hospital. And our participants ranged from the First stage to Entering the third stage. Positive comments were received by family members and visitors on how the energy and overall atmosphere of the place felt like home. We took pride in our work and we saw our patients as our extended family and they were treated as such.

But right now we are focusing on the visitors that thought this disease is contagious. I recall when I first started working there,  I shared with the center director at the time, how it was extremely challenging to get retirees interested in volunteering in our center. I was very surprised by her answer, but it has stayed with me throughout the years. She said, “They see their future in our patients, they also think that this disease is contagious”, this comment was coming from a woman that could have easily been our patient at the time, as she was within their age range. Even family members become estranged from the patients, once the diagnosis has been given. I could share with you many stories that would break your heart. But I won’t, I’m bound by HIPPA.

If you take anything from this small article, please let it be that the people that you may come across that have this disease are human beings with feelings, Human beings that deserve the same treatment as everybody else. Individuals that have a lot to share with us, a lot to teach us, some with a witty wonderful sense of humor.  Always remember, if you ever develop this disease ask yourself how do I want to be treated?  Please Educate yourself! Educate others on this disease. You don’t have a valid excuse to be afraid or to remain ignorant of this disease there are a lot of excellent sites that offer education on this matter. YouTube is a fantastic resource, just be discerning on the sites you choose for information.  It's not an easy road, it's full of bumps along the way. we will travel it together.

I leave you with this from the Mayo Clinic. All you have to do is follow the link!

Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered.

I send you lots of positive virtual energy.
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With gratitude-