In Memory of Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto - an Alzheimer's caregiver
I don't pretend to understand the cultural and political world of Pakistan. However, while reading a recent copy of More magazine, I saw a reference to a web story concerning a profile originally published in the December/January 2008 issue about former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Written prior to her return to Pakistan and her assassination, this profile described her childhood, her education, and her political triumphs and downfalls.
Seeing this reference took me back a few months when I first read the article. I remember being struck not only by Bhutto's complex life, but also by the news that she was a caregiver to her mother who has Alzheimer's (which I read on Wikipedia). I'm sure that Benazir Bhutto had plenty of help taking care of her mother, but still the primary weight had to have fallen heavily on her shoulders. Often we see men and women who have this professional demeanor, this charisma, this sense of purpose, but we forget that there are other facets to their lives. We've witnessed that situation recently concerning former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who stepped down from the bench in part because of her husband's struggles with Alzheimer's.
When the news of Bhutto's assassination was first announced, one of my first thoughts was about her mother's welfare. Did Bhutto's mother have enough presence to know what had befallen her daughter? And who would assume caregiving duties for Bhutto's mother now?
Reading about Bhutto's caregiving role with her mother helped me again realize that Alzheimer's disease knows no boundaries due to nationality, socioeconomic class, race/ethnicity, religion, or political party. From Pakistan to the United States, from England to Mexico - someone is battling this disease and someone else has assumed a caregiving role for that person. Perhaps we should consider fighting a new global battle against terror: the terror of Alzheimer's disease.