There are no “silver bullet” solutions to the growing epidemic of dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease among the human population.
Almost daily, there are reports – from the internet, which is a numbers game in terms of reliability and accuracy of information (the more hits a site gets, the higher it appears in the search engines), not an indicator of expertise and factual information – of “silver bullet” solutions to these neurological diseases.
I suppose, because of the devastating effects of the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease that our loved ones experience and we, as caregivers, intimately deal with as we go through the journey with them, that we all our susceptible to a measure of magical thinking that leads us to even remotely consider or believe the most outlandish – and patently false – claims that a solution will reverse or cure these irreversible and incurable neurogically degenerative diseases.
What makes me angry about the “silver bullet” solutions that keep cropping up is that they prey on the vulnerable (and that includes us, as caregivers), giving false hope and, often, reaping a huge monetary reward (if they’re selling the “silver bullet” solution) at our expense.
This conduct is shameful. This conduct is cruel.
How can we as caregivers avoid falling into the “silver bullet” solutions trap?
First, we must educate ourselves and study diligently to learn and know the facts about dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease. We must understand the physiology, neurology, and neuroscience of the brain.
Going Gentle Into That Good Night has many, many articles that detail, from a layperson’s point of view, each of the dementias, including Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as factors in their development and the prominent indicators of each type of dementia.
Second, we must understand dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease in terms of their steps and what to expect in each stage and how to walk with our loved ones with these neurological diseases through each step.
This is not the oversimplified stage progression that the Alzheimer’s Association (which does not include details of exactly what happens in a detailed and sequential way and nor what and how we caregivers successfully navigation through the journey of these diseases).
Without a deep and thorough understanding of how dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease begin (often decades before any overt symptoms appear), progress, and end, we will be susceptible to the false information and misinformation of “silver bullet” solutions, which will do neither our loved ones or us any good, and will only add additional unnecessary suffering to our journeys through these neurological diseases.
Ignoring or avoiding this aspect of our educational process will not make the development of the development and progression of dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease go away. Instead, it will only make the journey for our loved ones and us as caregivers harder, more painful, and more sorrowful than they should be or need to be. The choice is ours.
Third, we need to become experts at discerning credibility and balderdash in the information coming at us.
I see articles all the time (not in just discussing dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, but everywhere in life) from websites that are clearly not credible – look at the website name first and that will give you good insights into the quality of the information source – (and the information is misleading, at best, and totally false, at worst) presented and endorsed by a surprisingly high number of people as “truth.”
That is because of profound, and in many cases, willing ignorance. We, as caregivers for our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, cannot afford to be ignorant about these neurological diseases.
There are plenty of snake oil propagators and sales people on the web. They want you to believe them either because they want to make a name for themselves or they want your money. Or both.
It’s that simple. We must be vigilant to not fall for the snake oil propagators and the snake oil sales people. We – and our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease – will be the losers in this equation. Always.
And, fourth, we have to recognize our own capacity for magical thinking. Even as children, we have an innate capacity to believe things that are unrealistic or untrue, but they are how we want them to be.
That is part of being human. While there is an aspect of this ability that feeds imagination and creativity productively, the majority of it leads us to the unhappiness of disappointment, disillusionment, and denial of what’s right in front of our faces.
That does us no good and it does our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease no good. In fact, it does us all a lot of harm in the long run.
We must be willing to confront these neurological diseases head-on, realistically, without the blinders of illusions and false hopes hindering our competent, compassionate, and loving care for our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Our loved ones are depending on us to do this. They deserve our best and most-well-informed efforts on their behalf because they’ve placed their trust and their lives in our hands.
What will we do?