Thursday, 16 August 2012

Preparing for Dementia
My mother suffered from dementia for years before she finally passed away, weak and withered. Her dementia was the result of a series of strokes that occurred over many years.

We still have no absolute certainty about the reason for her strokes. In part, the doctors said, cholesterol played a role. Although one's lifestyle can curb cholesterol problems, there is also a clear hereditary link. If parents have high cholesterol chances are that their children will suffer from cholesterol too. Not only is there a hereditary link with cholesterol, there is also a hereditary connection for strokes. A family history of strokes increases one's risk of strokes.

While I have very healthy cholesterol levels at present, I do have a family history of strokes on both sides of my family. One of my paternal uncles also suffered from strokes.

My mother also suffered from depression, which may also have contributed to her later dementia. While I have been depression free for years, there have been times that the monster got me too. Artistic personalities are often prone to depression, but I have been lucky in that I've learned to recognise the symptoms and take pro-active measures to side step the pit most of the time.

Although I am healthy now and hopefully far too young to show signs of dimentia, I still need to be realistic and consider a possible old age that may include dementia.

How does one prepare for it? The YouTube video below shows one woman's approach. She mentions honing the types of hobbies that even a person with dementia could derive pleasure from; building up strength and balance so that when the typical weakness that often goes with a decrease in brain function occurs, one is not unnecessarily helpless; and building a good character so that when your mind is stripped naked, the purity of your character may still come through.

For me, controversial as it may be, assisted suicide for terminally sick people is also something I believe deserves consideration. I have mentioned before (in an Afrikaans post) that I support someone's choice to die with dignity for I have first hand experience of how such a terminally ill person is deprived of nearly all that makes one human. I do not want my loved ones to remember me as a senile old man, that dirties his pants, burden them emotionally and financially, and so steal from them all the good memories they had of me.

And so, as I get older, I start to think of these related things. I save for a pension, I try to keep up my health, and I consider such possibilities as getting dementia and how I can make it easier for those I care for.

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