Gifts For The Elderly
To lose your memory is to lose your presence in this world. Not being able to remember names, events, activities and faces is like having your computer slow down from a virus that cannot be removed; your performance begins to greatly decline.
Dementia is a mental illness that usually affects the elderly. There are many types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, vascular, lewy body and frontotemporal dementia. Each type of dementia has a different etiology and pathology but a common theme remains: memory decline.
In Alzheimer’s dementia, there is not enough acetylcholine (a neurotrasmitter) in the brain which is believed to be responsible for our memory functioning. Patients begin to slowly develop the disease over many years, with memory problems for recent events becoming evident. For instance, patients may forget where they placed their car keys, how to get back home from the grocery store and turning off the kitchen stove.
In vascular dementia, there is an obstruction or infarction in the arterial system of the brain, resulting in a stepwise memory decline over many years. Patients who develop vascular dementia usually have a past medical history of high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) and/or diabetes. The main symptoms are impaired memory, behavioral problems, disorientation and confusion.
In lewy body dementia, there are deposits in the brain called “lewy bodies” which begin to affect memory, movement, behavior and mood. Patients may feel depressed and apathetic and develop sleeping difficulties with fluctuating attention. One notable symptom from this disorder is repetitive detailed visual hallucinations of shapes, animals and people who aren’t there.
In frontotemporal dementia, the frontal and temporal lobes begin to shrink (atrophy), resulting in personality, behavioral and language changes. The hallmark of this disorder is that personality changes being to occur before memory decline. Patients may begin to lose their “filter” and make inappropriate comments and remarks and exhibit disturbing behavior. This is then followed by memory decline.
There is no cure for any type of dementia; medications can help slow it down but not stop its progression. The common final pathway is death. But there are a few gifts which we can provide the elderly with: support and emotional comfort, good listening skills and love.
We must not forget that the elderly deserve a lot of patience and emotional support. They were there for us when we were children running around in earth’s playground. Now we must return the favor and be there for them! No medication is a replacement for the love and support which we can provide our elderly with!
The elderly know deep inside that their end is near; on top of dementia, can you imagine how frightening their lives become when their memory is being erased from them on a daily basis? We tend to become angry with the elderly because they begin to act in ways in which we cannot comprehend. Anger just accelerates their death. Rather, we need to come together and be emotionally supportive and provide them with confidence, love and integrity!
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)