Unlocking Memories

Anyone who has had a family member stricken by Alzheimer's disease knows the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that arise both within the loved one with Alzeheimer's and those family members watching the person they once knew slowly disappear. As we continue to find ways of extending life, we often neglect extending quality of living in our effort to support the medical treatments. A non-profit organization, ARTZ, has directed its energies toward the goal of extending quality of living by engaging patients with dementia and their family members in activly connecting in the arts, through music, visual arts, and cinema. Unlike short-term memory, often the long-term memories of a painting, an old movie, or a song remain intact and can be source of interaction and connection for a person with Alzheimer's disease and their loved ones. A recent article in the Boston Globe, Memories Unlocked, highlights the local initiatives of ARTZ. I am pleased to support initiatives that recognize supporting and increasing quality of life is as important as supporting and increasing quantity of life.

I welcome your thoughts and comments about this topic.

Quality of Life

Thank you to those of you who alerted me to a wonderful documentary series which aired on WBUR in Boston last week. It is beautifully written and produced, an informative view of the dilemma over end of life care in this country. The title of the documentary is Quality of Death, End of Life Care in America: Inside-Out. As I listened to the documentary I felt a more appropriate title might be Quality of Life instead of Quality of Death because even as patients, families and healthcare providers prepare for death, life continues. Perhaps our emphasis on what we DON'T want done at the end of life overshadows what we DO want done? I read an interesting article recently that proposed changing the terminology of D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate) to A.N.D. (Allow Natural Death). Is there is a difference in your mind between these two statements, or do you feel it is only semantics? This is difficult topic to wrestle with but one that is growing in prominence in the health care world as we confront a rapidly aging population as well as staggering healthcare costs.