Well, considering that dementia is likely to affect a significant number of those above 60 years of age, one might as well be empowered by improvising one’s perception about it. Through that context, today, the 21st of September being ‘World Alzheimer’s day’, is a good day to start a journey in this direction. Isn’t it?
Alzheimer’s, as a matter of fact, is the most prevalent type of dementia that exists in the world today. While the average life expectancy improves in the wake of modern medicine, an increasing number of people around the globe carry the disease into their lives.
To begin with, it’s a disease that is irreversible. Yes, this remains true despite the difficulty attached to accepting such a fact – especially if one’s own kin has been afflicted by this state of neurology (not psychology). And a significant challenge lies in getting immediate relatives to mend their ways so as to suit the one hijacked by the disability.
Trivialising the deceptive symptom of forgetfulness simply as a sign of old age, is as good as overlooking the existence of the condition itself. Dealing with someone’s “forgetfulness” is totally different from handling a case of dementia. Acknowledgment is the first step in accommodating someone with the disease; acceptance is only the process, thereafter.
Hence, very understandably, caring for the affected also means enabling close family associates to consciously conduct themselves amidst the person – a very impactful aspect.
The lack of external causes is the culprit in preventing the detection of dementia in a person, by the family. Officially diagnosed, a survey done in 2011 suggested that about 3.7 million Indians had contracted the ailment – and that, only amongst only those tested.
Interacting with a co-working pair like Amrita Patil and Shanta Gyanchand, who extensively involve themselves in care-work for dementia through their organisation, ‘Echoing Healthy Ageing’, can be a sufficiently enlightening endeavour to spark curiosity and change one’s perspective about the disability.
A simple deliberation emphasises that understanding is key to making life easier for those who are subject to this condition, and even for those who need to make their way around such a person. Being more sensitive and caring will definitely help make a difference, apart from building technically well-trained teams of nurses and volunteers who are equipped to improve the situation.
So here’s once again: to ‘World Alzheimer’s day’; to people and organisations that work towards the cause; and to nurturing a better approach towards dementia.
P.s Also, by the way, the month of September is World Alzheimer’s month