We must accept the fact that we all grow old and many of us lose our ability to perform and (lead a) normal life because of our loss of mind due to Alzheimer’s disease.

In its terminal phase, when the person must be fed, in such cases people with this stage of the disease have no feelings, no awareness of pain, no awareness of family, friends or surroundings. Nothing matters to them – not whether they are dead or alive.

As they approach this end stage they worry about their caretakers, their family and what effect their illness shall have on them: the caregivers.

If the individual with Alzheimer’s accepts the fact that their loved ones, who have to care for them as a “no longer thinking,” not caring, but only a breathing body for an indefinite time (one to 10 years), what would the Alzheimer’s patient wish them, the family, to do at this point?

This is the question that should be asked every Alzheimer’s patient in the early stages of the disease. Put it down in writing and give a copy to the rest of the family and their doctor.

Philip Thompson, M.D.

Portland