By Michael Friedman, L.M.S.W., Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University’s schools of social work and public health (reprinted from Huffington Post, 4/3/11)
After a person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, subsequent emotional, mental, cognitive, and behavioral problems are usually blamed on the disease. Other possible reasons including behavioral disorders such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse or ordinary human reactions to tough realities are very often ignored.
“Grandma seems terribly sad.”
“Of course, she has Alzheimer’s”
“Grandpa has been nasty lately.”
“It’s the Alzheimer’s.
“Uncle John doesn’t enjoy life anymore.”
“Who would? He has dementia.”
“Mom isn’t eating much or isn’t taking her pills or isn’t getting any exercise.”
“It must be the Alzheimer’s.”
Not necessarily. In fact, blaming dementia very often gets in the way of understanding what is really going on and doing something about it that will help.