Last update: 12-Dec-2013 8:49 pm
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Dementia—an urgent social issue set to explode
The thought of dementia drives me nuts. Seriously, it does bother me to think that one day I’ll find myself even crazier than I already am. My mother and maternal grandmother both died with (if not of) dementia; geneticists think there may be a link between genes and certain diseases that cause dementia. It’s the uncertainty of it that is most worrisome to me.
Dementia is a condition that manifests with a number of illnesses, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease, Lewy Body disease, Parkinson’s disease, nutritional disorders and depression. (Alcoholism might also cause dementia, but my mother and grandmother seldom if ever drank.) The cause of dementia can only be definitively identified on autopsy and I don’t know for certain what kind of dementia my mother had. All I know for sure is that she died without knowing who I was.
Her symptoms began to show when she was in her early 60s, leading to a diagnosis of pre-senile dementia. This seems to be one of the more heritable forms of dementia, but it is not as common as senile dementia, which shows initial symptoms in people older than 65. Additionally, my mother may have been depressed before her diagnosis—she’d just broken up with my father, who was abusive to her but whom she still loved. She also developed Parkinsonian features—she was rigid and hunched by the time of her death.
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