Allan Takes Aim Blog

Dementia: a personal article

Posted on: 3 April 2013


Dementia: a personal article

Often people writing about dementia conjure up images of a woman (or women) having to be treated as children or in some cases, as people beset by madness. Such images are better consigned to the fantasy genre because it is as far from the truth about people with dementia as the earth is from the sun. It must be said also that dementia is not a disease particular to women, men, too, are affected by this dreaded disease.

In some cases but fortunately not all, it is clear the writers are not speaking from experience although at times the writing could cause some impressionable people to get the idea that dementia is a contagious disease. Such writing does nothing to advance the cause of research into the disease although it may cause un-necessary distress to members of some families.

It is unfortunate that loss of memory often comes with the onset of age. Unfortunately and too often, family members adopt the role of psychologist and start treating the person exhibiting forgetfulness as having dementia. It is even more unfortunate if they miss the fact that a young member of the family is exhibiting signs which although they might indicate the onset of dementia in an older person they ascribe them to playground accidents or stress.

Of the more obvious signs of dementia are an almost permanent state of confusion, a change in personality, an apathetic attitude to life and the withdrawal and loss of ability to do everyday tasks. In a sense although these signs are not necessarily definitive of dementia but when they are the probability is that they are but the tip of the iceberg.

The internet has a list of signs common to dementia. Unfortunately it is enormous and if used by unqualified people to make their own diagnosis it is likely to do more harm than good. It is said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing which is a truism in the case of dementia because it can make unqualified people feel equipped to make a diagnosis and prescribe what they think the correct treatment. This is the pathway to danger particularly in such a sensitive area.

However a clearly defined pathway exists which helps people avoid that danger. For example, spouses who think husband or wife or children who think a parent is exhibiting the foregoing symptoms should make arrangements for their GP to see them as soon as possible.

If their GP thinks it necessary, they will refer them to a Clinical Specialist in the dementia field to make a diagnosis. If the Specialist’s diagnosis says dementia, a course of treatment can then be given. Although it won’t cure the condition it will help mitigate it and make life better for the affected person. It will also help reduce any stress being felt by the family referee.

I must stress that I not an expert in dementia and that this blog merely reflects my opinion based on family experience. Probably many others could write of their experiences in language more eloquent and elegant than mine. I wish they would.

No doubt many of them, like me, have experienced seeing a woman and mother still loved after fifty three years (or more)  of marriage, decline slowly to become but a pale shadow of the woman they once knew.

In this case, fortunately, due to early diagnosis and treatment the decline has as not been as rapid as that of others although it still causes pain within the circle of her family and friends. If you are in the same boat I can but recommend you treat yourself to the great memories of your life and hopefully that the recounting will still stir memories in the other’s mind.
Comments welcome.

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