What is dementia ?

Ravi is currently 72 years old. He lives with his wife in an apartment in north Chennai. Ravi’s wife Karpagam began noticing that he seemed to appear forgetful. He would forget where he kept his spectacles and would scream his lungs out every morning, “Karpagaaaaaaaaaaa, kannadi enga ??”. Gradually he also seemed to lose track of other things also, he would forget where he had kept his wallet, would have difficulty recalling names of friends and some other things that old people tend to usually forget.

A few months passed and this “maradhi” was getting worse. He would forget that he had eaten and would ask for lunch again. He barely remembered who he had met earlier in the day. He wasn’t ironing his clothes before wearing them anymore. One fine summer morning, Ravi sir left for his usual walk but did not return. It took two hours and a million phone calls to find him sitting in the sitting at his usual tea spot. His memory was fading faster than before, he confused names and faces. Despite this difficulty in remembering recent occurrences, he would go into incredible detail about his early childhood and his college days.

Around 15 days ago, Karpagam noticed her husband fumbling about with his shirt button. This and his insistence to call her his sister prompted a visit to Dr. Radha. Dr. Radha asked Ravi sir a few questions, his inability to answer these questions shocked his wife. He did not know the year he was in, he could barely remember how he had gotten to the hospital. The doctor’s questions raised several red flags, he wasn’t sleeping well, often forgot to brush his teeth and barely knew how many grandchildren he had.

This looks like Dementia ! Declared Dr.Radha. “Seri aiyudum la doctor” ??

In India, more than 4 million people have some form of dementia.

47.5 million dementia sufferers worldwide. – 1 new case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds. -Dementia is not a normal part of aging .

As we age, we are more prone to forgetting. Modern medicine has extended life expectancy to much longer than what the human machine was originally designed to last. The old brain finds it difficult to maintain a set of nerves responsible for making and maintaining memories. This translates to difficulties in memory, behavior, sleep, appetite and many more necessary aspects of daily life.

Once these difficulties start disrupting day to day life, they may fall into the category of “dementias”.

What is dementia ?

Dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulty with thinking, problem-solving and/or language. These difficulties are severe enough to impact a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

Suggested next read – Understanding the types of dementia

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