A New Drug Test for Alzheimer’s Apathy Creates a Different Test for Me

woman at computer


At our recent annual check up, NP Stephanie suggested Ralph might qualify for a study on the use of Ritalin to treat apathy.

Apathy is clearly an issue for Ralph as it is for so many others dealing with Alzheimer’s.  Or at least “apathy” is the quick way I, and evidently plenty of others, have described the increasing indifference and lethargy that occurs in those on the Alzheimer’s spectrum.

So barring a cure, finding a treatment for Alzheimer’s apathy is obviously a good idea. Sitting in Stephanie’s office, I agreed immediately that we should see if Ralph qualifies for the study. Stephanie called the clinical research nurse in charge hoping we could meet right away, but after an unsuccessful game of phone tag, she left the nurse a message with my contact info and we came home. A few days later I missed a call from the nurse. I called back. Soon we began our own game of phone tag that lasted two weeks. Then two or maybe three days ago, the nurse and I finally talked. She described a 6-month blind study requiring one daily pill that may or may not be Ritalin and a monthly visit to Emory. Not exactly demanding. While we were on the phone she went ahead and emailed me forms. I was to read them and get back to her with dates we could meet in the next two weeks.

Of course, I’ll get back to you right away, I told her as we hung up.

Except as hours and then days passed, I put off opening her e-mail.

But every time I glanced at the little red number 1 signifying an unopened e-mail on both  phone and computer, I couldn’t help thinking, Do I really want to be bothered? Is the minor possibility of improvement worth the effort?

But those questions were only a cover as I toyed with darker thoughts. Will Ralph be more trouble if he is less passive? Is it easier for me just to let him float further out to sea?

Then this morning, I got around to opening another email, this one from the Healthy Aging Study in which I participate. There were two short surveys, one on “resilience” and the other on “purpose”. Resilience was a piece of cake; I could tell my coping answers were fine. But as for purpose, ugh, I hated those questions I couldn’t avoid answering honestly—like   “Disagree Highly” with having goals I look forward to accomplishing.

I have had to face that I have the apathy problem. Or rather we both do. But I’m the one making decisions for Ralph.

So with admitted reluctance, I emailed the research nurse back …actually the emails have been flying as I write this, multi-tasking semi-whiz that I am …and his appointment for initial testing to see if he even qualifies  is scheduled for next Wednesday. I have added it to my calendar and his.

And now I actually feel much better, having passed, if barely, my test as good caregiver.

(And yes, if my overall mood does not lift, I promise I will deal with it.)

6 thoughts on “A New Drug Test for Alzheimer’s Apathy Creates a Different Test for Me

  1. I’m with you on the ‘disagree highly’ on goals to accomplish. They set us up to fail to achieve them, then we feel even worse. I understand your dilemma about whether you want Ralph to become more ‘with it’ and therefore, perhaps, more difficult. Interesting about the blind study. I thought Ritalin was a drug to calm people, especially used in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And, you sound like you could do with a break and some time just to be you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks as always Mary. Not sure how the Ritalin is supposed to work or even if Ralph will end up accepted in the study, but stating my private dilemma here actually let some air out of my anxiety balloon. A certain burn out has set it and I am trying to deal with it. Jill’s recent comment about feeling as if she’s half drowning, not quite able to get a full breath really hit home….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Letting air out of your anxiety balloon is exactly what blogs are there for! And thank goodness for them! I empathise with the burn out problem but have no idea how to fix it. For me, it was getting away, not seeing or talking to anyone, trying to switch off the ‘have to’ and ‘must do’ for a while, which I did by reading my brains into train oil – light, unworthy novels 🙂 I hope you can find a way.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I read, but there is also a lot of HGTV in my life these days. Nothing like the soothing voice of the announcer explaining that house one is within budget but house two has a better view and house three has that nice finished basement to calm me down…..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Have to say that I understand the dilemma — will a more alert and active person with dementia be a blessing??….Looking forward to what happens with this – please keep us posted!
    Thanks for this entry, Alice.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s