Written by Robert B. Santulli, MD., associate professor of psychiatry at the Dartmouth Medical School and Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. Dr. Santulli is also the editor of the “Dartmouth Memory Clinic Handbook.”
For 20 years he has specialized in treating Alzheimer’s patients, their families and caregivers, and educating professionals about AD and other dementias.
Dr. Santulli discusses Alzheimer’s from the earliest stages of Denial through Moderate Stage, Severe Stage and finally End Stage Alzheimer’s. But what makes “The Alzheimer’s Family, helping the caregivers cope” different is that it is written for the primary care doctor, the therapist, the clinician, the people we ask for help when our loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Too often the family doctor is less informed about Alzheimer’s than we are. I remember my Mom’s first appointment with my family doctor. He was putty in her hands and agreed quickly enough with her contention that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was totally wrong for her. She had no memory issues, she declared boldly. And my gentle family doctor accepted her words and agreed.
My mom went on to recount an imaginary medical history for this family doctor that was more suited to a teenager than to herself. When Dr. Smith’s physical exam of my 83-year-old Mom finally proved the error of her words, I had to smile. He was clearly embarrassed that he’d believed everything she said without questioning me for further information.
Alzheimer’s Families and Caregivers need Physicians, therapists, clinicians who understand. Sometimes the Alzheimer’s patient has no memory of an incident, so the story of their past may be an invention. A doctor should know that, whether his specialty be geriatrics or not.
Dr. Santulli helps the clinician understand the family dynamics when one member of the family becomes ill with a life-changing illness such as Alzheimer’s. The clinician learns how to help the family cope, and pull together, and become a family of caregivers.
Every family has its own collection of interpersonal relationships. How we relate to each other is different in evey family. But when one member of the family becomes ill, everyone is affected. Dedication to caring for the person with Alzheimer’s becomes a family affair and as everyone works together the family truly becomes, “The Alzheimer’s Family” and a combined unit of caregivers.
Stress is heavy in the air while a family copes with Alzheimer’s. Depending on relationships prior to the diagnosis, it’s vital that everyone strive to improve any dysfunctional relationships that existed between family members beforehand. Dr. Santulli helps the family doctor, therapist or clinician to understand the value of each caregiver in a family unit and how their relationships interact with each other for the good of the entire family. The better the Alzheimer’s Family does, the better the patient does.
When the family truly understands their situation, knows what’s ahead for them, and has a clinician who understands their needs through all the stages of Alzheimer’s, everyone is better equipped to cope.
With this book, “The Alzheimer’s Family- Helping the caregivers cope,” Dr. Santulli will help Physicians and Clinicians understand and become expert at coping and assisting families and loved ones as they face the crisis of Alzheimer’s in the family and become loving caregivers.