Recently, Jacinto Bátiz, director of the Institute for Better Care of the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Santurce (Vizcaya) and head of the SEMG Bioethics Group, has published an article that alludes to the importance of the family-caregiver of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Jacinto Bátiz affirms “this disease gradually destroys the memory of the person who suffers from it, but it cannot cancel the affection… he will not be able to remember what we say to him, what he has done a few moments ago, perhaps he does not recognize us, but he will feel our expressions of affection because his affection is intact”.
In relation to what was mentioned about the importance of the role of the family, Bátiz defines this illness as “the illness of the two patients”. “Caring for the person in the advanced stage of the disease is a difficult task for family members.”
In addition to the psychological burden of having a sick person close to you, without a cure and with an imminent evolution; the family-caregiver has a transcendental role in the quality of life and course of the disease.
“The sick man has lost his mind, but not his heart. The heart is not lost until death. As long as the heart pumps the blood, we will stay alive, our identity will remain alive, we will continue to be who we are; but it will be others, the caregivers, who will tell us who we are in every gesture or word addressed to our hearts with small gestures, signs of affection, kisses, care full of tenderness… that will not fall on deaf ears. It is true that they will not stimulate the patient’s neurons, but they will be deposited in his heart. That is why they will never be sterile, they will never be too much”.
Therefore, Jacinto Bátiz defends that “the only thing that can deprive the patient with cognitive impairment of dignity is indifference… Maintaining closeness with the patient, avoiding emotional distances, is the best therapy to keep the memory of the heart alive”.
The absence of gestures of love and the perception of pleasant stimuli, even being unconscious, creates a great emptiness in the person. Therefore, sustaining and nurturing this closeness, avoiding affective distancing, becomes an unquestionable support for the patient, while Medical Science seeks ways to detect, alleviate and treat this disease as early and effectively as possible.