Caring Currents

What Alzheimer's Caregivers Need Even More Than a Cure

Last updated: Mar 15, 2008

Does Alzheimer's disease lack the "heroic glamour" of cancer? Fighting words from bestselling British fantasy author Terry Pratchett, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's last year at 59. He's donating $1 million to find a cure, pointing out that Alzheimer's receives far less scientific attention on a research-dollar-per-victim basis—about $22 per UK Alzheimer's sufferer vs. $580 per UK cancer sufferer. He isn’t dissing individual cancer sufferers, which included his own dad. Instead he’s drawing attention to what he calls an “a nasty disease, surrounded by shadows and small, largely unseen tragedies.” What really lacks heroic glamour, of course, is caregiving of all kinds. Alzheimer's caregiving is a particular challenge because of its long-term, progressive nature. Already, for our parents, there aren't enough resources to go around. And then we have the coming twin tsunamis of the baby boom's sheer numbers and longer life spans. The good news, of course, is that more resources for dementia caregivers now exist than ever before. But while a cure remains elusive and, according to some researchers, far off, what Alzheimer's caregivers need immediately is more:

  • education programs
  • respite care options
  • qualified professional care providers
  • housing options
  • support groups
  • creative resources for keeping parents safe and productive, not just warehoused away.

Anything you'd add to this list to make Alzheimer's caregiving easier, and better for your parent?