Rob Gill reports on a lecture given at the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies (CAPS) national conference at the Australian National University in Canberra by Georgetown University’s Professor of Psychology, Steven Sabat, on his research or – as he terms it – ‘education’ in Alzheimer’s.
Prof Sabat wanted to learn about the disease from people who had it, spending over 40 years charting what he refers to as the ‘ethos of defect’ that often accompanies the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
“People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s often lose their identity; they end up being seen as ‘the patient’ – no longer as a person,” he said, reporting that the actions of these ‘patients’ are too often interpreted in pathological terms.
He recalled the case of a former US Army general who, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, told his carer – several times in no uncertain terms – that he didn’t want a shower when it was suggested. Not an unreasonable response from a man used to wearing several stars on his uniform who has always taken showers when he sees fit, when he’s accosted by someone very much his junior.
Cases like these illustrate how behaviour that may be a rational reaction to an abnormal situation could be pathologised due to a lack of understanding.
Alzheimer’s is a disease which affects mainly older people. To read the full article, visit the Australia edition of ehospice.
Read the Global Age Watch Index, published by HelpAge International, which measures how well 96 countries are supporting their older populations.