DEMENTIA – BY BLOGGER TY

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Sad lonely pensive old senior woman

Good day to you all. Our blogger and friend Ty has written the post for today and it is a touching one, but one which needs attention nevertheless. As a child growing up in Jamaica, I would sometimes hear my mother make reference to someone at times, like, “Poor Doris gone senile”, or other references would be made by people, of older folks who had lost their memory as being senile , they no longer recognized any one. I have no idea if being senile or having Dementia is the same, but I now know through this post, that Dementia is more than memory loss. Please read, learn, and let us talk about this awful disease. Thank you Ty for this post. People when you pray please include the world!

Dementia

Many of us fear cancer, lightning, drowning or gunshot wounds. However a huge number of people as they age fear dementia. The loss of independence is a harrowing thought, not being able to complete simple tasks as brushing your teeth or remembering your loved ones. Some people question why God would give humans this terrible disease. I am not sure what the answers are but I do know that without diseases such as these, we would not remember the blessing of seeing our loved ones faces and feeling their embrace.

My maternal great grandmother and my God mother both had dementia. I did not know my maternal great grandmother so did not know her struggle. I do know that this disease caused her to “give away my grandmother” to her sister who had no children of her own. I am thankful that she was able to figure out that she needed help and blessed my grandmother. My god mother on the other hand, I knew and saw her struggle. When my parents left Jamaica, and me there, it was she who helped me. She was in the early stages of dementia. I was a teenager and was not aware of the signs.

A common thing to happen is that they tend to mask their deficits. They make light of their short comings and make excuses as to why they forgot things. Now, memory loss does not mean dementia, so before you go thinking you have it, relax. Dementia is a processing abnormality. it is a problem with the higher functions of the brain. Here are some examples:

  1. someone is given a checkbook and they cannot write a check, after years of being an account
  2. someone gets lost driving to church after being a member for over 20 years
  3. someone is given a toothbrush, and the can neither recall the name of the item or how to use it

Memory loss can be due to many other things than dementia, example vitamin b12 deficiency, folate deficiency, thyroid problems, vascular problems, strokes and infections. All these have to be excluded before you can get a diagnosis of dementia. Ideally, for the diagnosis of dementia one has to undergo a neuropsychology testing. This is a 2 hour examination that tests the function of the brain. The best way I can describe this test, is to say that it differs from a CAT scan or MRI. A CAT scan or MRI is like taking a picture of a person sitting in a chair. You can describe the persons clothes, and infer information, e.g. they wear glasses so they may have vision problems. You, however, cannot tell if they can get up and walk, or if they can walk well. This is where the neuropsychological testing comes in, it tells you the functional capacity and efficiency of the different parts of your brain based on how you complete a series of tasks. It tells you where you excel and the areas where you may need work. I personally feel that everyone over 40 should do this test because you are able to make a difference at this point.

Once the diagnosis of dementia is made it sends a devastating blow to not only the person but also to their family. There are many thoughts as to how we develop dementia but no one really knows. Dementia is thought to be a spectrum of disorders or a hodgepodge of disorders. Equally as frustrating is that there is no cure and no real treatment. There have been many thoughts and so far none have really panned out. A few years ago, there was the thought of high dose vitamin E, this eventually led to many bleeds in the head which resulted in much more devastating effects that the dementia process itself. Then there was the gingko phase, unfortunately, many people do not know that there is a male and a female ginkgo tree and both have separate and different effects on the brain. The hope of it being a treatment caused pandemonium and people got all kinds of gingko treatments and, as you guessed it, had bad outcomes. To date none of the research on gingko has shown a benefit.

Dementia has left scientists with a conundrum. It was first thought to be a protein build up issue. See, our brain and bodies run on electricity, which require positively and negatively charged particles to circulate. So, excess proteins disrupt this process and hence the brain does not process like it should. It sounded feasible and then to top it there were brain biopsies on autopsies of dementia patients to show an excess protein build up. This premise was what lead to the name Alzheimer dementia ( one variant of dementia where there is excess protein that is ONLY confirmed on biopsy at death). So it led to a flood of drugs to try to slow down the protein build up, these are still on the market and are the only ones available. So sad but true.

In the past few years, through stem cell research, the protein theory was debunked. It was proven that the proteins are not the initiating process but a by-product. See, the protein is after the fact and by the time it shows up, the damage is beyond repair. This same stem cell research has led scientists to figure out what is the initiating factor or damage. Currently, the main thought is that the brain tissue is very fatty, and so, made up many oils. If there is an imbalance in the oils, then the brain cannot function well and it will send out SOS signals which intern lead to inflammation, cross circuit and scarring. the scarring can lead to loss of tissue and breakdown, which then progress to protein build up. So far no drugs are available to combat this oil imbalance but there are some in the works.

So far, no one knows for sure what is the process and how to stop it, hence no viable drugs are available. The only thing that has stood the test of time in preventing dementia is exercise. Every single study done has shown that exercise has benefits to stave off dementia, slow the process and halt it. As why and how, there is still debates. Below is a short article on Dr. O’Keefe who won the Nobel Peace Prize this week for his work on dementia.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/06/us-nobel-prize-medicine-alzheimers-idUSKCN0HV1ND20141006

My honest opinion, is that stem cell transplant will be the only way for a cure. I think drugs will come in the future to halt or slow it down. The only cure, however, will come from stem cell transplant. Now before the bible beaters come after me, please hear me out. Stem cell are not only retrieved from aborted fetuses. They can be harvested from: the foreskin of a newborn that was circumcised, the umbilical cord right after delivery, your pelvic bone, and a few even can come from your inner cheek. So, there is hope.

Now back to my beloved god mother, she started to show the signs in her early 60s and progressed rapidly. She was an Anglican who never missed church on Sundays and early on in the disease would wake up 5 am to make it to 9 am mass. What was normally a 20 minute drive became hours. She would make all kinds of excuses as to why she got up so early. Then, she would ask me to write up her checks because her eye sight was “not so good”. She began to make the supermarket home-deliver her groceries because she was old, tired, and did not want to stand in lines.

When I left Jamaica I was still a teenager, I did not know the signs and aided in her cover up. I can clearly remember the day I was leaving, she held me tight and told me that she would miss me dearly and wondered how I would grow. I shrugged it off the day because I felt she would always be around and never sensed the storm that was coming. A few years later a got a call from a friend of mine who was in the legal arena that my god mother had called him to add me as the executor of her will. I was livid. She had 2 daughters, both older than me, and lots of money at stake. I did not want that responsibility. He was concerned when he saw the amount of money involved that trouble would be near for me should something happen to her. I told him to not accept the case and he did. I called her up and we argued. She felt that I was honest, fair, and that I would never fight over money or land. I told her never to give me that role as I did not want it. She was just as mad with me as I was with her. That was our last conversation.

I did not speak to her for a few years after and on a trip to Jamaica decided to visit her because I missed and loved her. When I saw her, I did not recognized her. She looked horrible. Her hair was cut short, she was emaciated, she had to be fed from a cup and spoon, she was bed ridden, had a foley catheter in place to catch her urine, and worse of all she could not speak audible words. I cried when I saw her because when my parents had left me to fend for myself, she was my shoulder, and the one I could talk to. I was a quiet child, and an internalizer, so I never revealed my emotions to anyone but when I cried she would embrace me and never asked a question. I loved her for that because she understood that was what I needed and never pried. Yet when I saw her and she could not speak, I was afraid to touch or hug her. I feared I would break her. It was a very sad moment for me….

I do not regret turning down the offer of being the executor of her will. To this day the two sisters are in legal battles over the money, land, and properties. I do, however, regret not speaking to her after that for such a long time. Fear and anger barred me from that. She died a few months after I saw her and on every May 31st (her birthday) I light a candle and pray for her.

This was not meant to be a sad commentary but one to empower you all.  I want you to know that:

  1. science has a long way to go for dementia treatment and that early detection can be an awesome tool
  2. exercising is a wonderful way we can all stave off dementia.
  3. hug and embrace your loved ones often.

I pray that my story here has shed some light on this dreadful disease, encouraged someone to have their love one tested who is showing early signs, made you not delay that workout session, and most of all be thankful for the well functioning brain you have. Ase.

Tí ìyà ńlá bá gbé’ni ṣán’lẹ̀, kékèké á gorí ẹni. /
If one is tripped by a major setback, little ones will take advantage of one……Yoruba Proverb!

[Major issues can make one vulnerable to minor ones.]

All religions are valid as long as it teaches peace and love…..Obara Meji!

There are no disappointments in life, only lessons learned…..Obara Meji

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[…] again, as with the Dementia post, Ty has managed to write this awesome post, which touched me, not only because of this little […]

MTH
Blogger
MTH

I dont believe sey Portia has a Jamaican visa. Shi turn dat in long time fi access Merica medical care. Yu tinkdem easy. Portia is one of the most heartless people I know. How can she claim any form of success in politics? 40 long years and nothing to show? Manley’s legacy is there for all to see, Maternity Leave, Equal Pay etc.

MTH
Blogger
MTH

Morning Teach. Big girl still sick. Little one a look afta di big one. Teach, miproud a how dem live loving. Mi naah lie, mi love di post wey Ty, come wid. Teach mi juss a hear sey smaddy a Austraila has Ebola. Mi love how Nigeria Ebola free and big, big Merica a look to dem fi help. What a way distone di builder refuse now turn di head corner stone. Bap! Bap! Nigeria. Since mi out (and mi fada normally tell mi wey dey gwan inna di news, since him sick, somethings a miss mi). Mi neva know… Read more »

MTH
Blogger
MTH

Let me address the Chick-V issue in Jamaica. The Min. of Health is someone I neither liked nor disliked. However, since this Chick-V thing, I am now looking at him with no regard. His is a dam liar that put the country at risk. For more than 3 weeks he kept report only 24 cases of ‘suspected’ cases of Chick-V in the island. Then my friend a police officer got and I listen the news, still 24 cases were being reported. However,when you listen to the news (RJR 5:00p.m. news is my primary source) you were hearing that a school… Read more »

MTH
Blogger
MTH

Thanks Cami. My dad was making light of the situation that he was ill and not his mouth so once he can eat he is fine. He has come down with a piece a toothache. Mi sarry fi mi fada. Mi a run up and dung a lookpain killers fi both mi fada and daughta.

MTH
Blogger
MTH

Half way through reading the comments and just want to pause and make a few comments before I forget. LOL. Teach, I like your introduction, growing up,I often heard people take about people being senile. I had no clue that being senile and having dementia were the same thing. Ty, great post. Your writting sytle is great. Dementia is a topic that few people talk about, yetit is something that affects a lot of people. I often wonder how does exercise works in aiding people retain their memory when yousee people like Ali who was a boxer and an avid… Read more »

MTH
Blogger
MTH

Teach, morning. All fambo big respect. Thanks so much for your concern re my girls and I. I had taken off Tuesday as Big M was very ill. I was in and out of office yesterday. She is still ill and I might have to leave work shortly and go stay with her. My father on the other one is still in serious pain. But as Anansi sey, two trouble betta dan one.’ Blessings one and all.

Ty
Blogger
Ty

I am off to bed…the excercise class have me a ways…

Ty
Blogger
Ty

Lol…

Cami
Member
Cami

Creator, please to relieve Obara of her ugly hat obsession.

Ty
Blogger
Ty
Cami
Member
Cami

Onu de yah? lol Me ago watch one show (American Horror:Freak Show) be back. Since I napped already I’ll be trolling the comments.

I’m not logged off, screen up so me can still participate mean time.

Cami
Member
Cami

Where is everyone? Obara inna busy season so we can see with her…ty/yw been throwing out articles so dem pardon…I’m here…

charles206
Blogger

ASE TOY

Ty
Blogger
Ty

I am off to excercise, I will be back on later…

Ty
Blogger
Ty

Did u guys see they euthanized a dog because of possible contact with Ebola?

Ty
Blogger
Ty

Thank you Toy….

Toy
Member

Hey everyone, Obara, Ty,Yw, Cami, Nunu, Kia, Charles and everyone I have missed. Ty you did a great job on giving us insight about Dementia. Cami, it hurt my heart to read about your grandmother also your grandmother Charles. Mth, I hope your baby girl is feeling better. I hope we get an update from you soon. I am so happy to know Nigeria is free of the disease. I am so happy to you all in my life. I have become more better person, because of each and everyone of you. Thank you Obara for this site. Thank O’… Read more »

kiabubblez
Blogger
kiabubblez

Last night they reported Thomas Duncan recieved the experimental drugs yesterday but his organs had already failed. His family had just reached Tx yesterday also. So sad

TY
Blogger

just a reminder, keep drinking your aloe vera…it is bitter i know but oh so good for you…

TY
Blogger

Mth I am praying for you, your daughter and whole family…sending healing energy and hugs…

TY
Blogger

iba Thomas Eric Duncan

TY
Blogger

Such sad news that the guy in Texas died of Ebola… I will light a white candle for him tomorrow and pray for his family…

TY
Blogger

Thank you for that Obara…I think there is definitely a spiritual side to dementia…hence why there are so many varying processes in how each individual gets it and handle it…

We all have to remember that we are living in a live, ever changing energy field and that our words, thought, actions and wishes can transform and shape this energy.

Cami
Member
Cami

Me going to take a nap…bb

TY
Blogger

Charles, Cami, and Kia…my heart and prayers are with your loved ones…it is a hard process to see…

Thank GOD from what you all stated, your loved ones are all mellow…sometimes they get very angry and become violent…even when it is not their personality…

TY
Blogger

As with regards to vitamins…vitamins are enhancers, the allow ALL brain and cell function to work better…the brain loves B vitamins and when they are low can cause memory loss and also speed up dementia…

You do not have to get vitamins from pills..the best way is from fruits and vegetables….also remember that B vitamins are water soluble, so any excess for that day comes out in your urine….

having fruits and vegetables regularly is the best way…if you cannot, then you take pills…

TY
Blogger

The brain is a super computer, believe it or not, no recent computer can challenge the power of the brain. It is said that we only access 30% of our brains. People who meditate access 10 to 20% more brain power… when you open ideas and thought, it is like you open apps. So if you have a lot on your mind, you have many apps open and the brain goes slower. We sometime think we forget easier at this time. So Obara this is what was happening to you when you place the items in the wrong place. When… Read more »

TY
Blogger

Good evening everyone, I too like Obara was nervous about my writing and how it would be received. I am happy you all got something from it.

charles206
Blogger

She moves around. We had to restrict her movement, so children don’t start making jest of her.

charles206
Blogger

Everybody in my family is waiting on the news that she’s no longer with us. Most times, when their is visitors in the house, she would come out and say, shes going. Our visitors will look at us like, where is your granny going? One of us, will hold her hands and take her back to her room. It’s painful tho

charles206
Blogger

Goodevening Obara n all ES crew, presently my grandmother is going through this process, first it started with her sights and next, she would say to you. “Im going” everybody would be wondering where’s going to. She doesn’t even know me again. I feel for her, all my life, have known her to be a strong woman. I don’t like the ending part of her life.

Cami
Member
Cami

Morning Everyone, peepers included. Mth, hope all is well with your daughter. Yazzy? Ty, great article. Like Kia, my maternal grandmother is nearing 101, but dementia took her in her 80s. I remember when she last spoke to me and when I say me…I mean knowing me by name and speaking to me. Now she only speak once in a blue moon and she has less than 5% recognition to whom she is addressing. She tend to move her fingers as if she is sewing (she use to hand stitch a lot) and when she was able to stand on… Read more »

kiabubblez
Blogger
kiabubblez

Good morning Obara ES fambo Ty thank yu for sharing this. I too have a grand parent with dementia. She nearly 100 n feisty is a shame! Lol its her short term memory that seems to have suffered as she cant remember taking her daily meds or if she’s eaten lunch but can tell yu all about her life when she was younger. She also love man! She will flirt with the dr, the driver, and handsome man. Thankfully she remembers us but her moody change alot. Thankful her dementia has not progressed as some other people I’ve meet or… Read more »

Yw
Blogger
Yw

Ekaro Obara Meji and all!! Dementia or any issue that affects the mind is difficult, to me. How the person who has the problem deals with it is important but maybe more important is how those around them empathize and deal with the affected. Some people with dementia may make light of it, some may get belligerent but most (if not all) try to cover it up. In my opinion, it is important to empathize and understand that losing one’s memory may cause one to feel lost and panic as a result. Knowing this may help loved ones to better… Read more »

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