Friday, July 9, 2010

The A-Bomb

I've had periodic insomnia since I was a teenager, and it's frustrating to stare at the red digital numbers of the clock tick by the minutes, excruciatingly slowly, even if it is to the sweet melodies of KUSC. So, I got up and did that previous post.

I also worked on a home-study course I'm completing for continuing education units (CEU's) for my license. Once I'm done (very soon), I'll be able to add CADODTS to the alphabet-soup of credentials after my name. This stands for Certified Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias Treatment Specialist. In plain English, I'll be better able to serve clients and families with whose lives Alzheimer's is interfering. Since I market myself as a psychotherapist specializing in work with the midlife and aging "baby-boom" population, this extra layer of expertise makes a lot of sense. Much of what I'll continue to do, besides my already-supportive counseling, is to help senior clients and families explore their process and demystify it through education. I already am well-connected to many senior service agencies and case workers, especially after working five years in Senior Care Network through Huntington Hospital.

I have some dramatic family history related to Alzheimer's. In 1996, my uncle died after a long struggle with the disease. He and my aunt had been married just a little over sixty years. Roger experienced much fear and depression in the first few years after the initial diagnosis. He had been a lawyer, a local judge, and ultimately a New York State Supreme Court Justice. Together, he and Sis had led a full life with children, grandchildren, an active social life, and getaways to a beach house they owned in Canada.

Roger saw what lie ahead, and the sense of powerlessness over its progress ran counter to his lifelong self-concept of intelligence and competence. Sis, the devoted wife, cared for Roger. She reluctantly placed Roger in a skilled nursing facility in the final days, when he became enraged and tried to strangle her. Sadly, the toll was not just taken on Roger; Sis soon died of a heart attack. The family said that she probably "worked herself to death taking care of him."

Roger died 48 hours later, unaware that his life companion was already gone...

As I told a friend recently, who said he had always tried to "fight off getting Alzheimer's," this disease does not discriminate. Even the most gifted, talented, and deserving of us are at risk -- and therein lies the cruelty of Alzheimer's. Among my favorite celebrities that come to mind are Rita Hayworth of old Hollywood films, and the beloved Star Trek character "Scottie," James Doohan.

Aas we baby-boomers age, we're next at risk. And frankly, I'm terrified--for myself, and for my loved ones who would be responsible for my care if I fell to the A-Bomb.

So you see, my mission to help in the cause of Alzheimer's research and treatment is as personal as it is professional. And once more, I put out the call for anyone who wants to join me on November 7th for the Memory Walk in Century City, check out my walker page at http://2010memorywalkla.kintera.org. Please feel free to type in my name to search for my walker page, and make whatever donation you feel inspired to and/or join my walking team!

Let's start conquering Alzheimer's in our lifetime!







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