Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Wouldn't it be funny if...

..."we" discovered that the ingenuity, mental acuity, emotional flexibility, social assertiveness, fortitude and spiritual expansion acquired through taking intense, hands-on, moment-to-moment care of our Ancient Ones was exactly the type of neurological "exercise" needed to protect us from Alzheimer's and other types of systemic dementia?
    Suppose it turns out that the drastic reordering of mid-life priorities and assumptions about what it means to be human required of the full time caregiver are responsible for a psycho-somatic chemical/electrical reaction that intervenes in the physical processes that lead to dementia? What if "Brain Age", crossword puzzles, learning a new language and physical activity were only the insignificant tip of a profound protective iceberg?
    Further, what if it didn't matter whether the caregiver fought to "stay cheerful" and "find time for oneself"? What if what mattered was the depth of the bond created between caregiver and intense needs care recipient and the ability and willingness to recognize, use and best, with one's native faculties, the inevitable discouragement, depression, rage, helplessness, hopelessness and sense of loss with which the intense needs caregiver must deal; and that the more involved one becomes in the care recipient's life, thus the more rigorous and sustained the neurological workout, the more protection one achieves?
    Can you imagine everyone's (including intense needs caregivers') surprise when the results are tallied and it turns out that the only current study of caregivers, the lone one that suggests that caregivers are better off than their peers when caregiving ends, is the only study with even slightly accurate results? How much of a flurry will it cause, once we baby boomers have, as we usually do, submitted ourselves to rigorous study, when we realize that all the "negative", "regrettable" circumstances surrounding caregiving, if surrendered to, are exactly the circumstances that catalyze the organism to guard against what seem, at present, like the inevitable infirmities of old age?
    What if "we" learn that those who have decided to take on the world and what we now call "the burden" of caregiving for the Ancient and the Infirm have, in fact, done exactly what one needs to do to prevent the systemic development of senile dementia: Taken on and adjusted to the twin yokes of exceptional compassion and empathy for one human being for several years?
    Wouldn't it be funny if, out of pure self-interest, people were, then, motivated, globally, to become acutely other-interested in the most vulnerable segments of our population?
    Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Originally posted by Mike: Wed Nov 22, 02:28:00 AM 2006

..and even funnier if being an unmotivated paid worker in the aged care industries and having minimal empathy with your charges raised your chances of dementia.

Originally posted by Patty Doherty: Wed Nov 22, 01:24:00 PM 2006

I knew, if I just waited and was patient, and kept my ears and eyes open, I would find the perfect thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Your post!

Too funny and yet too possible?


Originally posted by Deb Peterson: Fri Nov 24, 10:04:00 PM 2006

Gail--I'm a great believer in the power of suggestion, and I often imagine that the people who conduct those caregiver studies EXPECT to find depressed caregivers--how does that influence the study results? Caregiving is such a stretch because, I think, you really have to believe in SOMETHING. You're caring for someone who is not going to get better, who is often unreasonable and cranky, and who knows better than anyone which buttons to push to get you going. So I really don't think your scenario is unbelievable--maybe if we start telling ourselves all this...?
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