I had a busy couple of days at the Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association Symposium, along with hundreds of family members and professionals in the field.
Sold fifty books, which was great. And sold them to the best of readers, those who are wrapped up in the disease, both its devastations and cure.
Above all, beyond my own talks, I heard story after story. The ones that come back to me now, a few days later, are about family troubles. About the caregivers, for example, who have left their own lives to move in with their parents. Or the woman with four siblings: “Two of them say there’s nothing wrong with my mother, and two of them fight me every step of the way.”
Or the woman whose brother was suing her to get back everything she had spent on their mother’s care. He wanted his inheritance.
Or the woman whose father abandoned her mother when she became forgetful and confused. He took all the money, went to live elsewhere, doesn’t visit, doesn’t want anything to do with his wife of many years. The daughter struggles to keep her mother at home, but doesn’t know how long she can go on, emotionally or financially.
Behind so many of these stories: the money. Caregiving takes money, whether you’re doing it yourself or paying some assisted living center or nursing home to do most of it. (Nursing Home, incidentally, is now something of a pejorative description. The facilities are all leaving it behind in favor of more hopeful terms such as Health Campus.) Care facilities are big business—and as my mother was fond of saying, “All it takes is cash.”
Actually, what is most needed is human will. We need both: money and the desire to help. And in some 350 people at the Dayton symposium, I found plenty of human will and drive. No wonder: everyone there had seen Alzheimer’s up close, and knew its devastations. It was a powerful and effective symposium, their 19th annual, and perfectly organized.