Aiding the Caregiver--A Physician’s Duty

Miriam Vale
Bachelor of Journalism

What is the most effective way for physicians to utilize the latest treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and yet remain mindful of, and willing to deal with, the more mundane issues such as quality-of-life, caregiver support and patient/family education?

This question was the focus of "Bridging Research and Care," the final session of the World Alzheimer's Congress 2000. Topics that were covered included the history of Alzheimer's Disease (AD), traditional versus innovative diagnostic tools, pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments for AD, the community resources that are available for patients and caregivers, and contemporary ethics for physicians, researchers and care providers.

The final session, entitled "Alzheimer's Disease: Into the Next Millenium", was presented by Dr. Richard W. Besdine, Director of the University of Connecticut Center on Aging. He outlined the roles and responsibilities of physicians dealing with AD patients and reviewed the current pharmacological treatments that are available to them.

First and foremost, argued Besdine, it is the doctor's responsibility to provide a comprehensive assessment of the diagnosis in a careful, compassionate manner. "Honesty is important, but the truth shouldn't bludgeon," he said.