The second most common form of dementia is virtually unknown to most people. However, Lewy body dementia affects 1.4 million Americans, with symptoms commonly misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Additional symptoms such as hallucinations and uncontrollable shaking make diagnosis and caregiving more difficult, and treatments for Alzheimer’s or psychosis can often be harmful. Experts discuss.
Candy Schulman, daughter of woman who died with Lewy body dementia
Dr. James Leverenz, Director, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and Chair, Scientific Advisory Council, Lewy Body Dementia Association
Aging is something that ultimately we all have to face. Everybody reaches a point when they’re not quite as sharp mentally, and physically they may need some assistance. In most cases, before we have to deal with our own aging, we face the aging of our loved ones. Dr. Melanie Merriman is a hospice consultant with a focus on the system of healthcare in relation to illness and growing old.
Dr. Merriman likens the process of her own mother aging to clenching a net beneath a balancing tightrope walker, waiting for the inevitable fall. Her memoir, Holding the Net, details the pitfalls of caring for her defiant mother, as her independence is challenged by the aging process. She says that most people wait too long to have conversations about growing old. Instead of being proactive, most wait to discuss the need for assistance or the move to a nursing home until it’s time to make those tough decisions. She also adds, it’s important for both parents and children to discuss what they expect from each other as the aging process progresses.
Joy Loverde, author of Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?, adds to the discussion by asking the question; What do you want for yourself when you grow old? She stresses that relationships constantly evolve. Friends, and even family, come and go. It’s up to you to envision and plan for your own retirement and aging. Of course, a lot of it comes down to financials. Even if you’re on your own, many services and care options are available for the right price.
For many, independence is an idea entangled in pride and the fear of not being able to control the future. Dr. Merriman says dependence on others as you age is not weakness. The hardest part of planning is getting started, but a simple Google search for aging agencies in your area is a great place to start.
Melanie Merriman, author, Holding the Net: Caring For My Mother On the Tightrope of Aging
Joy Loverde, author, Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?