Alzheimer's Disease can rob a person of their identity, independence and the connection to their loved ones, but one 89-year-old man may have found a way to break through the clouds of dementia. Doctor Sanjay Gupta has the inspiring story.
"I love you so much."
89-year-old Sol Rogers climbs into his wife's bed every day. It's his best weapon against a heartbreaking disease.
"If possible, get in bed with your spouse, if they're in a hospital, rehab or nursing home, and tell her how much you love her," he says.
Restlessness...yelling...confusion it's part of life for Sol's wife, Rita, and more than half of the four and a half million people living with Alzheimer's Disease. Rita's memory began to fade eight years ago. It started with names and places and eventually she no longer recognized Sol or her children. She moved into Briarwood Center in Massachusetts earlier this year unable to talk or even move.
"All of a sudden an idea came to me, and I think it came from God. So I got into bed with her and started to love her up, getting close to her, cuddling up, telling her how much I loved her and everything. I loved it, and I guess she did, too. And she started to say a few words."
Over the next few months, Rita improved -- now, she's more responsive and mobile.
"I believe that love conquers everything, the loving touch."
In fact, UCLA researchers have taken a closer look at the physiological effects of touch. Therapeutic touch appears to have an effect on the stress hormone cortisol, so it decreases stress and increases the relaxation response and decreases anxiety. Studies prove that touch therapy can dampen the symptoms of the disease and improve the caregiver's quality of life.
Sol says it's certainly worked for him.
"Though she'll never recover from Alzheimer's, but I'm gonna enjoy her every bit of the time that she has left."
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Washington