Writing in Forbes Magazine, UPenn PRC Researcher Jason Karlawish, MD, asks what it means when an Alzheimer’s patient loses the autonomy to live safely in his or her home and turns to adult day care, assisted living, or other types of facilities. “Refugees need asylum, and those exiled from their home by Alzheimer’s disease should be able to find safe harbor in these places,” says Karlawish. “We ought to view moving there not as a failure to care but as part of the story of leaving one home for another.”

Broadening our understanding of Alzheimer’s beyond the medical diagnosis is a next step, according to Karlawish. “Framing Alzheimer’s as a humanitarian crisis ties together the many diverse but interconnected sufferings: the millions of caregivers who struggle to make a typical day for the patients, struggle because their will to care is frustrated by a system ill-equipped to educate them about what to do, where to find care and how to pay for it. It explains how the causes of the Alzheimer’s crisis aren’t simply a biomedical problem in need of better drugs but a social, economic and political problem.”