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Will you still be able to figure this out (2+2) in 20yrs time?

Posted 23rd February 2012 at 09:19 PM by babe!
Updated 23rd February 2012 at 11:11 PM by babe!

Will you still be able to figure this out (2+2) in 20yrs time?

Dementia is a disease that cause progressive memory loss.

Today, I woke up at 6am to the tune of Nwagongo wathiogun, a Zulu South African song. I couldnít hear the lyrics distinctly.i struggle to understand the words but it was a futile exercise. It was in a different language. However the song sounded very poignant, and I can only guess what those South-Africans were singing about. Maybe about their love for God. Maybe about the sublime-nest of the human spirit. Maybe about the sheer joy of been alive. In suffering yes, but alive, in hope. On some deep emotional level it struck a cord in me and I kept humming it.

2hrs later, in the consulting room, my first patient was a 67yr old woman with at very advance stage of Alhzeimer dementia.
I struggle to follow her thought process or to understand her. She couldnít remember her own name or that of the person (her last daughter) that brought her to the hospital. She couldnít understand where she is or for what purpose. "What are they talking about?" "Why so many questions?" "Is someone dead?" "am I in danger?" "Are they going to imprison me?" Should I be afraid or run out before it is too late? Her mind continually made attempts to grapple with the substance of the meeting but then and again it eludes her.

i struggle to understand her words just as I had done 2hrs earlier with the Zulu song. It just didnít make any sense. In the end, emotionally, I attempt to empathize, to imagine and feel what she is going through. To feel her suffering, even just for a moment. There is something intrinsically humiliating about seeing another human suffer so much. How can life, as ebullient as it is, be now reduced to thisÖ

As you are reading this, stop for a minute and imagine someone close to you or yourself in 20yrs time, unable to understand any thing on StockMarketNigeria.com - Nigerian Stock Exchange , Stock Market and Investment News, Stock brokers , Mutual Funds, Nigerian Stock Prices again. This wonderful forum that you start your day with, that you adore the intellectual contributions, that you can barely go 2 days without logging in.

Imagine you, picking the latest financial statement from Zenith bank, GTB or any other coy and it looks exactly like Mandarin- some chineese language. Or worse, the printed words appearing like snakes, frightens the daylight out of you. A simple financial statement that you digest in 10mins flat!

Imagine you, unable to remember what day it is or the name of your lovely wife.

Imagine you, being unable to interact or develop any meaning bond with your grandchildren?

If it is such a dreadful disease what can be done about it?

First, things you can't do anything about...

1. You can't choose your own parents or race. Some types of dementia are linked to race and genetics. Is there an environmental factor to it? well, i can't remember anything that is well documented.
2. You can't stay young forever. Some form of dementia are commoner with advancing age. But this does not mean old age causes dementia.

The little things you can do something about..

1. Keep learning. New things. Keep using your brain.For instance, figure out your exact change before you waive it. Am not questioning your eagerness to be generous with a tip, but just exercise your brain at every oppurtunity. Rememeber when you were younger, and perhaps less bucks-up? Remember how sharp and fast you could easily do a mental calculation? well start again now. It is for the same reason you should solve soduku, learn chess, and do cross word puzzles routinely. Or learn French. read widely, diversely. All this is necessary to avoid disuse atrophy.

2. Your brain is precious nurture it. Stop smoking. Ensure strict glucose control if diabetic and strict blood pressure control if hypertensive. why? smoking and diabetes could lead to progressive narrowing of the blood vessels in the body, and those that supply the brain. In Dementia there is cell-death, you don't want to choke your own brain cells.
Uncontrolled blood pressure also damages brain cells, a condition known as Multiple Infarct Dementia.

3. Live well, have a bucket list. keep records. A rich photo and video album. they could come in the twilight days, when the lights are slowly going out.

4. Be aware, early treatment slows the progression. Dementia itself isn't firmly established until much more later in life say around 65yr, but an earlier pre-dementia stage, called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) can be identified. Rather than dismiss your recurrent forgetfulness to as due to advancing age, see a Doctor, and let him rule out early onset of a dementia process. If it isn't MCI, then you are happy. If it is you can commence treatment early with a far better chance of slowing the disease progression.

But it is not all gloomy.Dementia patients do have some lucid moments just like my patient did towards the end of the interview.

The daughter was expressing her frustration about keeping up with several of the attendant behavioral changes. " She keeps loosing things. In the last few days I have bought up to 4 earrings for her, just so she could look nice to Church. But she repeatedly misplaces them. I donít sell earrings and should I use all my money to buy earrings for her?"
Then the patient looked at her daughter and smiled. "long ago when you were little and kept misplacing yours I didnít tell you I donít sell earrings or that I donít want to be broke because I needed to replace your earring almost every day".
Then Mother and Child looked at each other and smiled, both recollecting a long forgotten period, happy to re-connect with each other again, if only for the briefest of time.

So will you be able to do 2+2 in a couple of decades' time? The choice may not entirely be yours but you can make little changes now. will you??


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  1. Old Comment
    afolabi27's Avatar
    Nice one Brother.
    Posted 25th August 2012 at 10:04 PM by afolabi27 afolabi27 is offline

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