Q&A on Alzheimer's


Q: Which is preferable for a person with Alzheimer's – to be home with limited resources or in a medical facility rich in resources?
A: At home.  He feels better there, and it slows down the progression of the illness.
Q: When there is no choice, can a child help a parent in the bathroom or shower even though it is immodest?
A: Yes (See Pesachim 51a.  Aruch Ha-Shulchan, Even Ha-Ezer 23:8.  Shut Shema Avraham #70).
Q: Sometimes the behavior of a parent suffering from Alzheimer's goes beyond the limit.  Am I still obligated in honoring one's parent?
A: Yes, to the best of your ability (See Rambam and Raavad, Hilchot Maamrim 6:10).
Q: Is a person suffering from Alzheimer's obligated in Mitzvot?
A: To the best of his ability, and where he is mentally aware (See Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 1:120).
Q: I don't have the strength to care for a person suffering from dementia.
A: One needs great self-sacrifice to care for a loved one.
Q: Is there any advice for a person suffering from Alzheimer's who forgets to perform Mitzvot and violates transgressions?
A: Writing in a notepad.  And for Shabbat – pre-made sticky notes.
Q: Is it permissible to violate Shabbat for a medical procedure which will extend his life?
A: Yes.  It is considered a life-threatening situation.  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 328:5 (Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:91.  See Shut Tzitz Eliezer 8:15 #7.  Shut Bigdei Shesh 1:42 #4).
Q: Is it permissible to violate Shabbat for a medical procedure which will help him remain mentally stable for a longer period of time?
A: Yes (Shut Tzitz Eliezer ibid. #9, 1.  Shut Bigdei Shesh ibid. #5).
Q: Should one pray for his recovery?  After all, there is no medical cure.
A: Certainly.  1. In order that the illness does not worsen.  2. There is constant research and perhaps a cure can be discovered.  3. That he should feel good, as much as possible.
Q: If the person is suffering greatly, is it permissible to pray for his death?
A: Yes (Ketubot 104a).  However, it is on condition that it is for his benefit and not to ease the burden on the family (Shut Tzitz Eliezer Volume 5, Ramat Rachel #5.  Volume 7 #49).
Q: In general, how should one relate to a person suffering from Alzheimer's?
A: With love and respect.