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The David Hyde Pierce Interview (Page 1 of 2)

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An Interview with David Hyde Pierce

Gary Barg:  As a Board Member of the Alzheimer’s Association, you must have a good understanding of the progress being made to help people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Do you think we’re any closer to finding a cure?

David Hyde Pierce:  We’re always closer to getting a cure, but we’re still not close enough. The researchers have been working tirelessly, and we have some of the best people in the scientific world focused on this disease because it is such an enigma and such a tragedy on so many different levels. People for humanitarian reasons, for economic reasons, for all sorts of reasons, want to find a way to slow this disease down. In fact, even more than a cure, if we could just find a way to slow it down so that people do what they used to do a hundred years ago, which is, for the most part, pass away before it ever became a problem.

GB:  Do the drugs on the market today really help slow down the progression?

DHP:  Absolutely. The drugs that are available now affect every individual differently; some people respond more to one than others, and other people respond better to a combination of drugs. There are more drugs certainly in the pipeline to help mainly with the symptoms, allowing more time for people to plan, to be with their families, and to be as independent for as long as possible.

GB:  What would you say are the special issues in being a caregiver of someone living with Alzheimer’s disease?

DHP:  Any time you are caring for a loved one, it’s difficult; especially if you are caring for a loved one with a terminal illness. But there is something so torturous about what Alzheimer’s disease puts caregivers through. My grandfather had it, and my dad probably had it, although he had stroke-induced dementia at first, but it likely became Alzheimer’s toward the end. In both cases, my grandmother who was my grandfather’s caregiver, and my mother who was my father’s caregiver, both predeceased their spouses.

My grandmother died of a stroke and there’s just no question that the emotional stress plus the physical stress of dealing with my grandfather—seeing his decline, and dealing with the round-the-clock supervision he required—I’m sure it ended her life long before she would have died otherwise.

GB:  So often each caregiver thinks that they are the only one who can take care of their loved one.

DHP:  That’s that whole concept of the airline motif, where you put on your oxygen mask first before you help someone else who needs it. If you are not taking care of yourself, how will you be able to take care of the person you love?  Ultimately, you do both of yourselves a disservice.

GB:  Taking care of yourself first could be our motto at Today’s Caregiver, but there seems to be an added guilt factor when caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s.


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