A long and sobering read – dementia

As the average lifespan increases, the probability increases, and possibly more so with the challenges of modern life. And this brings us to where The Guardian rises to the occasion in its feature, The Long Read.

The topic. The deviousness of dementia. Here we have the experience of one, trained in clinical psychology, who lived as caregiver to a friend’s father. As we take the journey we appreciate more the role of the caregiver.

For a man nearing 100, he was amazingly spry. Short, solidly built, with a firm handshake, Mr Schecter exhibited at our first meeting all the hallmarks of dementia. He repeated himself, his mind wandered, and he asked the same questions over and over. He also insisted that he didn’t need help, that he still went to work (he had, of course, stopped)…

As the author further observes, and where the task of the caregiver is remarkable and unenviable,

Dementia not only affects the minds of its victims; it also creates a world so fragmented, so skewed and redundant – so indifferent to normal rules of behaviour – that caregivers unwittingly become part of the madness. And this, unfortunately, is what the doctors and the guidebooks offering counsel to caregivers often fail to notice…

The journey of fruitful life does seem to arrive at a sudden end for some – even as the physical component continues. And millions more are to embark on such a journey, unknowingly in company once well known – until medical progress becomes the Deus ex Machina. Medical science has its challenge, especially with the cost, financial and emotionsl, of such care.