Treat patients like human beings, and they'll behave like human beings -- no matter how sick they are.

Stunning? Of course not. But this is what passes for cutting-edge Alzheimer's care these days.

Care facilities are slowly waking up to the fact that these patients don't need the risky antipsychotic meds usually forced on them, the blaring alarm systems used to prevent them from wandering, or even the diapers these patients are routinely required to wear whether they're incontinent or not.

All they really need are the same things the rest of us want: A little time, attention, and TLC.

The facilities that are making the switch from drugs to hugs are seeing remarkable transformations -- so naturally, they're catching hell for it.

State health officials in Arizona went after the Beatitudes nursing home in Phoenix for offering some patients chocolates instead of meds -- they even threatened a citation, according to a recent report in the New York Times.

But Beatitudes stood its ground -- insisting that chocolate can be as effective as Xanax.

The approach is part of a philosophy where the staff will allow Alzheimer's patients just about anything that brings them comfort -- even a sip of booze at night, according to the Times report.

And the results speak for themselves -- because even patients that have been tossed out of other facilities for poor behavior thrive with little to no medication in Beatitudes.

One expert told the newspaper that Beatitudes has virtually no sundowning -- the delusions and agitation that many Alzheimer's patients experience in the evening.

Hmmm... fewer meds, fewer delusions, less agitation, and better behavior. Anyone else see a connection here?

This stuff should be considered basic -- it should be the starting point for dementia care.

Instead, it's revolutionary.