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On the Brain
June 17, 2019

The Art of Caregiving: Lessons in Alzheimer Disease

Author Affiliations
  • 1Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Neurol. 2019;76(8):881-882. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.1599

Snap! My frustrated grandpa breaks his pen in 2. While reassuring him, I reminisce on how we got here. Years ago, Grandpa was diagnosed as having Alzheimer disease (AD); one way I give care for him is through drawing. Although Grandpa has admitted he is no Monet, our 2-decade-old tradition has provided me with some insight into the art of caregiving. In 1999, Grandpa gave me rides to preschool. Coming home each day, I marveled at his imaginative creations. My mother wisely started a collection of his drawings, knowing I would treasure it one day. When Grandpa was diagnosed as having AD, my family had notions on where we were headed and how we would get there. Many of our ideas proved incorrect and we learned together. I found one way to reconnect with him: reprising my role as his personal art appreciator and collector. Through our experiences, Grandpa became my professor in the human condition. Here, I wish to share 3 lessons I have learned from him.

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