"Thank you so much for inviting me to speak at your Alzheimer's Association support group this evening. I really appreciate this opportunity..."
I mentioned a few of weeks ago that I was going to do this talk. Thanks to all those who gave me comments and e-mail on this. This feedback helped me in my preparation.
I did a similar talk about 3-4 years ago at the hospital. There must have been 70-80 people there. When I showed up to the support group meeting, there were seven people. My reflex, at first, in a totally selfish thought was, "Only 7 people? I prepared a talk for only 7 people?"
After a few seconds of reflection, I knew I was being ridiculous and very selfish. I also knew that if there was only one person there, that one person took the time out of her/his schedule to hear a doctor talk about this mysterious disease.
What usually happens is that the question and answer session is better than anything that I prepare. So, I condensed a 60 minute presentation into about 20 minutes. "Are there any questions?" -- And, boy there were! A few of them were right along the lines of Moof's questions from earlier this month: How soon do you really want to know, Suicide: Acceptable in Alz, and If You Could Choose. Cathy has also posted about Alz before - namely devoting her blogfest to Alz Assoc, and this post called Skin Test.
Each person there shared her/his story about Alzheimer's. I couldn't help but feel helpless. With all the knowledge and training that I have, I knew that there is no cure for this disease, yet. One person there had concerns that her husband may have Alz. She was afraid to tell him that she was going to attend the meeting, and had questions "that only a doctor could answer." Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of answers, but I think she felt ok with what I said.
"In this day and age," one of the group members said, "older people would rather have cancer than Alzheimer's Disease." I have not stopped thinking about this statement since that night. Such a powerful statement, yet, I believe it's true.