Understanding, believing, denying

Because of my concern about dementia awareness in India, I participate whenever I can in awareness programs, talking to people about dementia and caregiving.   The Dementia India Report 2010 says, “Awareness of dementia in India is low.” I see this as a polite understatement in a country where people usually fail to recognize dementia as a medical problem because they see the symptoms as either normal old age, or a mental problem (read: madness). Many (most?) doctors are not alert about dementia.

Awareness of anything, as I understand, needs both information and belief.

Usually, when we explain dementia, the focus is on disseminating information (and maybe case studies/ stories/ incidents), assuming that people exposed to the facts will believe them. But sometimes, even after hearing or reading about dementia, people don’t register what it is.  Information percolates only if people are willing to believe it, and many things come in the way of believing that dementia symptoms are caused by medical problems.
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a solo dance is not good enough

Sometimes, some health news alarms me, like this one which suggests we party to keep away dementia.

Because, I cannot party. Not because I don’t want to, but because partying means you have a social circle that accepts you into its fun-making, and a support system that allows a measure of spontaneity, and a personal nature that can set aside all bothersome thoughts and responsibilities to wear dancing shoes and a beaming smile.

A calm and outgoing personality” needs a possibility of venues to implement that outgoingness 🙂 Social contact may be a way to stave off dementia, but it cannot be my way. Most of my interactions with fellow humans is by reading what they write (I gobble books) or through online groups, or through a sense of sharing (however limited) that blogging gives me. I enjoy a sprinkling of phone conversations with friends who stay in touch even though we never can meet. That, according to another article I read, does not count as being socially active. You have to go out and meet them, period.
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Of probabilities and acceptances and dementia risk factors

On this day eight years ago, a senior neurophysician told me my mother had dementia.

My mother and I sat in his consulting room. The doctor had conducted a number of tests, checked her MRI, and asked her many questions. When my mother, a highly intelligent woman who did masters studies in three subjects, was unable to answer his question of what equals 100 minus 7, she looked utterly woebegone, and somewhat ashamed.

Finally, the doctor turned to me and said that for her form of dementia, there was no treatment, let alone cure. He suggested that I try to keep her mentally and physically active, and hope the progression was slow.

I asked him, “Is the problem hereditary?”

“With a probability of fifty percent,” he said.

Fifty percent.

It was just too high.
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