There’s not an ounce of doubt about the crucial role of technology in providing a wide range of utilitarian health care solutions. In the context of dementia, more specifically Alzheimer’s, we now have a plethora of fit-for-purpose solutions to help our elderly cope with the emergent challenges of this largely progressive disorder - from assistive calendars, touch lamps, voice prompts to medication aids, remote monitoring systems and tracking devices to brain boosting apps and wireless brain implants. But this copious supply-side push, knowingly and unknowingly, has kept the process above the purpose.
Ahead of ground-breaking research, we need a common sense approach focused on care – more palliative than curative – to help patients restore their dignity, not just function. As much for a happy today as for a better tomorrow. This tight rope walk can’t be traversed at the cognitive level.
Life is inherently meaningless. The onus is on us to find and attach meaning to it. Since the medical curriculum is not designed to address the patient’s psychological needs, practitioners tend to suppress emotion in the focal attention to the scientific treatment. This is a cardinal error. When the patient weeps inconsolably, the whole emphasis should be to trace the root cause, not merely to administer a perfunctory dose guaranteeing a provisional calm.
We need to create purposeful awareness among relatives and care givers of dementia patients, to help them:
1. Raise the right questions rather than seek tailor-made answers,
2. Explode myriad myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease and last but not the least,
3. Break the shackles of cerebral communication to strike a chord with the patient.
This selfless effort is certainly not the proverbial magic pill, but it’s undoubtedly critical to put the rigmarole of medication in perspective.