TV host Pat Robertson said during his 700 Club Show yesterday, that divorcing a partner with Alzheimer’s is OK. The broadcaster explains his point of view by saying that a person with the disease loses the original personality traits and the transformation leads to a state similar to a “kind of death”.
Yesterday on Club 700, host Pat Robertson was asked for advice from a viewer, who had a friend with a sick wife, and who started dating another woman. She asked the TV host how should she approach the matter and what advice should she give to her friend. Robertson started by showing compassion for the situation the man was in. He said that it must be very hard for him, “because his wife as he knows her is gone”. Nevertheless, looking for a new partner is understandable in this case, and the man should not be judged too harsh.
“I hate Alzheimer’s”, says Robertson when it comes to the tragic effects that is has no only on the person with the disease, but also on the family and friends of the person.” Suddenly that person is gone. They’re gone. They are gone.” Host Terry Meeuwsen then asks whether this is a good enough reason to break the wedding vows, “for better or for worse […] until death do you part”. Robertson then gives his point of view on the matter: Alzheimer’s is a “kind of death”, as the person does not remember anything from the past.
Pat Robertson’s advice seems rather shallow when taking into account the medical condition of a person with Alzheimer’s disease and the details that a tutor has to deal with. Alzheimer’s is a brain damage disease in which the synapses between neurons start fading off in an alarming rate, much faster than in other people. The neurons die in large numbers and quicker. Alzheimer’s, which has 7 stages of manifestation, starts unnoticeably, with short memory loses, which can be attributed to old age. In time the person’s everyday life is affected. By stage 3, it can be detectable as people around the person notice something is wrong. By stage 4, the person cannon do complicated math exercises that he/she could do before. At stage 5, the person can forget the home address, the right order to put clothes on, the clock reading. At this stage the patient definitely needs supervision. At stage 6, the patient has long lasting memory blackouts and cannot do anything without supervision. However, he/she can still construct and verbalize short sentences or words. Stage 7 is the terminal stage, in which the person looks like she/he has lost contact with the outside world. Doesn’t move, doesn’t react.
What most of the Alzheimer’s related articles you find on the internet or in magazines don’t tell you, is that the person having the disease is in a constant state of anxiety. The major reasons of the anxiety is related to losing contact with reality and being abandoned by the loved ones because of the disease. Most of the patients have moments of lucidity up to stage 6. From the perspective of the sane person, it might be ok to leave behind a partner with a degenerative disease such as this one. But from the sick person’s point of view it is more dramatic.