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Now, to say caring for our elders is challenging is an understatement! Wow! See, we have what we call the circle of life. Our elders become children or childlike, and we now have the unenviable task of parenting them. It gets more complex and challenging when they start experiencing memory loss, difficulty in communicating, and inability to do the ordinary, mundane day-to-day things they used to do on their own, such as cooking, bathing, dressing up, eating, or even holding coherent conversations. The most challenging part is when they start experiencing severe memory loss. Now, in the African culture, specifically in some African countries like Ghana, when an elderly person starts exhibiting memory loss, it is attributed to what they call ‘the old-age memory loss’ issue. Well, my fellow Africans/Ghanaians, let me introduce you to the beast I call the big “D”! DEMENTIA!!!!! Huh! You may ask, “As3mp3, what’s Dementia got to do with caring for our elderly parents or guardians?” Folks, Dementia affects a large percentage of the older population and thereby substantially impacts the quality of their lives and their care.

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological conditions affecting the brain that worsen over time. Let’s get one thing straight: although some forms of Dementia affect mental health, they are not mental illnesses. Dementia is a brain disorder that results in memory loss and trouble communicating. Folks, Dementia patients exhibit profound memory loss; they repeat themselves, and they sometimes get irrational and combative. Their short-term memory is severely compromised. Over a period, their long-term memory starts to deteriorate, too. Unlike depression and other forms of mental illnesses that happen more suddenly, people living with Dementia decline over a period, and this depends on the form of Dementia they have. Good care and support are vital to help keep on top of your loved one’s Dementia needs. 

Folks, think about the circle of life; we have become the caregivers of our parents. The roles have reversed. It’s our turn to bathe, clothe, cook, feed (sometimes spoon-feed) them. It’s our turn to remind them to take naps, take them to their doctor’s appointments, monitor and supervise everything to do with their healthcare and sit and chat with them. Is any of this easy? NO! Ah well! It wasn’t easy for them either! The difference is you are now also an adult. So, it’s a case of an adult taking care of an adult, not an adult taking care of a baby or a child. You are taking care of an adult who has become childlike! Know the difference. It would be best if you had patience. It would help if you committed to caring for them irrespective of the challenges you will inevitably face. Yes, it’s your duty. You are obligated to take care of your elderly parents. Please do it with LOVE. It would help if you reminded yourself that they cannot control their childish tantrums and playfulness that sometimes irritate them. They are aware of their shortcomings and challenges and get frustrated that they can no longer do the simple things that come quickly to them. Please do not take their dignity away from them.  

Hey! Have you experienced the following ‘funny memory lapses’ episodes yet? Have you looked for your glasses all day and realized they’re sitting right on your head? Have you looked for your phone while talking on the phone? Have you left your phone in the refrigerator and looked everywhere for it? Have you banged your fist or scratched your head in frustration as you try to recall or remember something you shouldn’t have forgotten? Now, ask yourself. Is it old-age memory loss? OR is it the beginning of something more sinister? Folks, we must treat our elderly with the LOVE, RESPECT, and DIGNITY they deserve! Think about this: if we are so lucky as to reach our parents’ age, OUR TURN WILL COME! What goes around, comes around! Whatsoever we shall sow, so shall we reap!

As you can see, caring for older people is no walk in the park. An elder with Dementia takes the caregiver on a perilous journey that leaves the caregiver with scars and sometimes some mental challenges. The caregiver is left mentally and physically exhausted! Folks, let’s face it: Dementia is such a brutal disease for the individuals who are fighting this neurodegenerative illness and for their caretakers. So, the question becomes, who cares for the caretakers? Hmm, next blog? Let’s roll!

DISCLAIMER!!! I am not an expert on Dementia! I am neither a Neurologist nor a psychologist. I am also not a professional caregiver! 


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