Dementia, in its various guises, is an evil affliction. I use the term affliction, as dementia doesn't even have the decency to be a disease in its own right. It is a compendium of other diseases, such as Alzheimer's, cerebral vascular degeneration, strokes, in some cases non-stroke related severe brain trauma, and Lewy Body, that ultimately cause irreparable damage to the brain.
The first signs are often
dismissed as forgetfulness due to old age - DANGER! It is at this point
that real diagnosis is needed. There is currently no cure, and probably
won't be one for the foreseeable future. The main treatments - when
diagnosis is ultimately made, often later than should be the case - are
aimed at the underlying diseases that cause dementia.
treatments may delay the stages of dementia - in some cases
successfully, in many not. Ultimately, the person we love begins a slow,
sometimes incredibly slow, decline, and we begin to lose the person we
knew and loved so much.
The worst aspect of dementia is that the
person concerned, also knows something is not right. They become
agitated, frightened, and in some cases terrified. Neither they, nor we,
know what is happening.
Dementia doesn't just affect the person
who has it, but everyone else close to them. It is often accompanied by,
and indeed caused by, acute diseases such as Diabetes, Hypertension,
Hypothyroidism, TIAs (Transient Ischaemic Attacks) etc. All of which
contribute to the condition.
My Mum has what is now mid to late
stage vascular dementia. Everyday is precious. Some are good, some not
so. But, I still love my "little lady" (ickle lady), and will do
everything I can for her. Despite the fact that she is no longer able to
do many things for herself, and relies on me and her carers to look
She still has a wicked sense of humour, and her carers
look forward to their visits, because of her friendly, smiley attitude
towards them. Yet, deep down inside, I know that slowly, but surely, my
beloved Mum is disappearing, before my very eyes.
If you're in
the same situation, treasure every moment you can. Give them the love
and security they crave, and above all, treat them with the kindness and
respect they deserve.