MIAMI – March 17, 2016 – Be prepared with something akin to the “football” that the president’s aides carry if you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia is among the sage advice Marc Agronin, M.D., shares with families in his latest book, “The Dementia Caregiver: A Guide to Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Neurocognitive Disorders.” In the book, Agronin thoughtfully boils down complicated health challenges into easy-to-understand language and offers this and other nuggets in his 10 Cardinal Rules for Caregivers introduction.
Agronin, a nationally known and sought-after Alzheimer’s expert, is a geriatric psychiatrist and Vice President of Behavioral Health and Clinical Research at Miami Jewish Health Systems. He released this, his seventh, book in late 2015 and it is now available in hardback, paperback and Kindle editions from Amazon.
Following the book’s first two chapters – which cover the differences between normal and abnormal cognitive changes, how to be evaluated and what to do with the results – a chapter is devoted to each of the different types of neurocognitive disorders. Agronin explains the differences between the various diseases, and shows that two people with the same disease can experience them very differently.
Miami Jewish Health Systems, one of the largest providers of healthcare for seniors in the Southeast, serves as his learning environment. Drawing on moving personal experiences and in-depth interviews with pioneers in the field, Agronin crafts a book full of medical details and terminology, but delivers it in a conversational style.
“Caregiving can be a tremendous burden,” Agronin writes, “causing increased stress, medical problems and depression. Caregivers are healthier and more effective when they take care of their own needs in addition to the person they are caring for.”
Although the book has the word, “dementia” in its title, Agronin points out that the term neurocognitive disorder (NCD) is becoming a replacement for it to reduce stigma. He says with time, “dementia” may go the way of other antiquated medical terms.
Here’s a synopsis of some of his Cardinal Rules for Caregivers.
- Know what you are dealing with. Caregivers need to understand the main cognitive problems, degree of impairment, most likely diagnosis and expected outcomes. • Train Yourself. You have to become your own expert on how to work with a cognitively impaired person. Empathic instinct is important, but alone, it’s not enough.
- Be prepared. Wherever you go, carry a “football” akin to the briefcase the president’s aides carry with the nuclear launch codes, although in your case it includes a list of medications, allergies, doctors’ names and numbers and more.
- Adjust your Expectations. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or most other NCDs; be realistic about this fact and yet do not take a fatalistic approach and give up.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait for a medical, psychiatric, social or financial crisis to make needed changes.
Agronin’s commitment to helping seniors with Alzheimer’s disease is unrelenting. He treats patients at Miami Jewish Health Systems, makes rounds visiting with residents and families, leads clinical trials and teaches both locally and nationally.
In addition to his work with patients, Agronin is affiliate associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He has written numerous books and articles, including “How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old,” and has been featured on NBC’s “The Today Show” and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”
Agronin writes a regular blog for The Experts panel of The Wall Street Journal and lectures extensively nationwide, including annual presentations at the U.S. Psychiatric Congress.
After graduating summa cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in psychology and philosophy, Agronin received his medical degree from the Yale School of Medicine. He then trained in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and later completed a fellowship at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis.