Dementia may be an unspoken matter that nags at our older adult well-being. It may also be one of those conditions I don’t talk about with others, perhaps unsure how to broach the subject. I know that this condition is broader than one specific disease—e.g., Alzheimer’s—and that only a percentage of older adults might have to deal with complete cognitive loss. I am also aware that medically-diagnosed dementia is not a statistically normal part of aging. Still, I may worry about the matter, perhaps more than it deserves.
So I keep to myself the moments when dementia-related behaviors crop up. And I stay away from anything more than the usual senior citizen grousing or kidding about the matter.
Dementia-related conversations wouldn’t have to be deadly serious. Nor would discussion of the possibilities be necessarily colored with foreboding, as though dementia is at this very moment waiting on my doorstep. I think I can approach this matter—like so many other parts of growing older—with reasoned awareness that leads to reasonable preparedness.
With conversational partners, I can disabuse myself of the notion that any memory glitch is a certain sign of approaching dementia. And I can take to heart all the ways in which this condition can be delayed or even thwarted. (See Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: What Do We Know? | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov) ).
These conversations wouldn’t be a cure, of course. But keeping these thoughts to myself won’t help anything or anyone. The wisdom of others—shared in conversations—can only benefit me as I approach the day when severe cognitive loss might come my way.
Unspoken, dementia thoughts will continue to pester me. Shared with others, they will yield to the love, care and honesty of those who surround me.
That feels hopeful.
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