Alzheimer’s Disease from a Human Perspective

May 18th, 2015 by beasleyferber

As an attorney, I spend a good deal of my professional life helping families shelter assets from long term nursing home care. Much of my work is driven by families who have a loved one in a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Through sophisticated legal devices such as trusts and irrevocable immediate annuities, we can protect much, if not all, of the assets of the family of a loved one in a nursing home. I also spend a good deal of time preparing Medicaid applications for people in nursing homes, many of whom have Alzheimer’s. My work involves a detailed review of people’s assets, and working with those assets to structure them in the proper way, so they can be protected.

Earlier, I got a different view of Alzheimer’s, more of a “human” perspective. I attended a presentation put on by the Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. There program had interviews with research physicians, who discussed the physical bases of the disease, and the great progress that had been made in learning the causes of the disease. There were also updates on the good work done by the Alzheimer’s Association. What made the most impact on me, however, were two things. First, there was a short documentary film on the everyday life of a married couple in their 50s, in which the husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. In the film, the wife talked about what life was like with her husband, and the frustrations and struggles she faced. The husband also talked about what life is like for him, what he can no longer do, how frustrating it is for him, and how he is making the best of the time he has left, before the disease robs him of all of his memory. The program also had a live interview with a married couple in the audience, in their late 60s or 70s, where the husband has Alzheimer’s. He spoke eloquently about what life is like for him, and how he does his best to manage his condition, and make the best of it. His wife, obviously very devoted to him, also spoke about their life together, and how the disease has impacted on it.

The program was very valuable for me on a personal level. Often, professionals such as doctors and lawyers see the “case” only, or the “symptoms” only, and lose sight of the fact that there is a complex person in front of them, a person with daily struggles, as well as family and friends, all of whom are affected by the reality of the disease. Now, when I meet with an Alzheimer’s patient or his/her family, I will look at it from a different perspective, and deal with the entirety of the situation. I once went into a doctor’s office, and there was a poster that said, “See the person, not the illness.” Thanks to today’s program, and the good work of the Alzheimer’s Association, I now understand what that poster really means.

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