Let’s Stop Our French Bashing!

December 18, 2013 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Vive la FranceSometimes Americans love to make fun of the French.  But let’s face it, they’ve got a bunch of good things going on.  Who can beat a glass of wine on a spring afternoon in the Latin Quarter?  Or a stroll along the Champs-Elysees on a sunny fall day?

In the global struggle to develop better care and better cures for dementia, the French are, again, onto something.  While many countries are still flat-footed regarding how to tackle the dementia epidemic, the French are into the third iteration of a national plan to address this health and social issue.

Most significant in the French approach is the concept of “person-centered” dementia care.  This concept tries to understand the individual, his history, his profession, his likes and dislikes.  The more we know about the person, the more we can understand his behaviors in dementia, and the more we can provide care without the need for psychotropic drugs.

The goal is to keep people in their homes as long as possible.  And, when care is needed, the French have developed a series of day care centers inside existing nursing homes.

The most innovative aspect of the French plan may be a regional network of support services that guide families through the care process and connect them with Alzheimer’s and dementia oriented resources, dementia care specialists, and the like.

Finally, President Sarkozy has directed significant investment — $1.6 billion euros over five years – to the effort.   This is much more than many other countries that are struggling with the disease.

Once in a while it’s fun to be snarky about the French, but as far as dementia care goes, all I can say is, “Vive la France!”

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