I don’t know of any research on this, but my guess is that most people don’t feel vulnerable to one of the saddest illnesses that I know. That illness is dementia. I’m not one of the people who can be happily unaware because I know the heartbreak behind statistics that tell us that 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 have dementia. Of course that statistic only covers the people who have been formally diagnosed. The reality is probably worse.
I have firsthand personal and very painful experience of this problem.
My grandma passed away when I was aged nine. Grandma took care of me until I started going to school. She was my rock, and I was her favourite granddaughter.
Grandma was an early riser, a great cook and a very clean person. She also had a very unsuspecting nature. As I grew older, I started noticing changes in grandma. And before too long she started to feel like a stranger. Among other things Grandma was hallucinating, and became obsessed with the idea that people were talking about her.
Grandma also started sleeping more and more, and couldn’t remember if she’d had her meals or not. Through it all I saw my mother lovingly caring for her, even more when she totally lost continence.
At that stage I didn’t know how to communicate with grandma anymore. We lost the precious connection that we once had. All I knew was that she was getting old, she was losing it, and in her confusion and despair she was being unkind to mum and dad.
These days I work as a Diversional Therapist and I’m passionate about helping people to understand the risks, and the ways to not only support and interact with people living with dementia, but also to help them to slow down their decline. Not to mention shoring themselves up to minimise their own risks.
People living with dementia didn’t choose to have the disease. They still want and deserve to have a good quality of life. They want to be supported, cared for and loved. They need our empathy and compassion. They need us to help them navigate the journey through this debilitating disease.
I do not know if I have inherited any faulty genes or not. But what I do know is that there are things that I can do now to reduce my risk and help others in this regard as well.
I am currently writing a book to demystify dementia.
My aim is to donate 1,000 copies of the book to families caring for loved ones with dementia. I’ve launched a crowd funding campaign so that I can publish and distribute the book. I’ll also be using the funds to support the cost of translating the book into other languages. The campaign ends on 31st July 2019. Please help make it possible for 1,000 families to receive a copy of the book, and/or share the link below as widely as you can.
Here’s the link to the campaign https://igg.me/at/crowdfund-shannon-book/x/21926096#/
The Carousel would like to thank Shannon Chin for her story.