Save an Elder from Dementia

“We must make haste then, not only because we are daily nearer death, but also because the conception of things and the understanding of them cease first.” Marcus Aurelius

Taiwo just like anybody else felt right to throw the old lady to the dogs, an expression meaning that she let the situation with her grandmother be judged by the common people, whom she felt understood her plight better. It all began some months back, Iya Adeola exhibited some suspicious behaviours. Iya would go to the bathroom and forget to turn off the faucet, thus, wasting the water in the tank; other times, she would lit the gas cooker in an attempt to prepare a meal and twice almost burnt down the house, which prompted Daddy Taiwo to install a fire alarm system. Occasionally, she would forget the names of anyone, often times accusing her family of attempting to kill her. These and many other incidents made Taiwo to conclude that her grandmother was a witch out to wreck them all.

This story is similar to the situation many people experience in living with aged parents or relatives. The sad thing is that these older persons are not intentionally causing havoc as they also require help for themselves.

Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. Although dementia commly affects older persons, it is not a normal process of ageing.

Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke.

Dementia may have old age as its most common risk factor, but it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. People below age 60 years experience dementia and this accounts for 9% of eventuality.

Studies show that people can reduce their risk of dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, Additional risk factors include depression, low educational attainment, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity.

The impact of dementia can be overwhelming for the families of affected people and for their carers. Physical, emotional and financial pressures can cause great stress to families and carers, and support is required from the health, social, financial and legal systems.