WHO ARE YOU?

I decided that one special woman who has just passed away, and all the other loved and cherished ones that live with dementia/alzheimers or a form of it, deserved a blog post in order to educate people about this – especially since

  • Almost 280,000 Australians currently live with dementia
  • Without a significant medical breakthrough, that is expected to soar to almost 1 million by 2050
  • Each week, there are 1,600 new cases of dementia in Australia. That is expected to grow to 7,400 new diagnoses each week by 2050
  • Dementia is the third leading cause of death in Australia, after heart disease and stroke
  • One in four people over the age of 85 have dementia
  • Dementia is fatal and, as yet, there is no cure
  • Dementia is not a normal part of ageing
  • Australia faces a shortage of more than 150,000 paid and unpaid carers for people with dementia by 2029
  • By 2060, spending on dementia is set to outstrip that of any other health condition
  • Dementia is already the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians (aged 65 years or older)

(Info as of 2012 thanks to http://www.fightdementia.org.au/understanding-dementia/statistics.aspx )

This Sunday I am “Running For A Cause” 10kms in the Sunshine Coast Marathon not just to complete something on my AWESOME list – but to raise much needed funds for Neuroscience Research Australia – “discover – conquer – cure”, but also in loving memory to honour a special lady Louise who passed away this week and lived this reality that is Alzheimers. http://www.everydayhero.com.au/tammy_pluck

So what are the risk factors for this? Well they include cardiovascular risk factors, diabetes, cholesterol, family history, head injuries, long term alcohol abuse, and many other factors associated within these.

But the statistics are not the only important thing here…we are talking about people and those that love them. What a difficult thing to experience a a normal/regular life with someone – whether it be a mother, father, sister, daughter etc etc – then in a sense to have all that wiped clean when the throws of dementia set in.  First they get a bit forgetful, forget who you are until prompted, then they dont remember you at all sometimes not even remebering that they have children – instead they experience their reality as some time in their past.

THE POEM

What do you see Nurses, What do you see?
What are you thinking when you look at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit with far away eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply,
Who when you say in a loud voice, I do wish you’d try,
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And is forever losing a stocking or shoe.

Who is unresisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding the day long to fill
Is that what you were thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes nurse, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still
As I do your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small Child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another

A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon a lover she’ll meet.
A bride now twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows I promised to keep,
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to build a secure happy home.
A woman off thirty, my young grow fast

Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty my young ones have grown and have gone,
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t moan

At fifty once more babies play around my knee
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread,
For my young are all rearing young of their own

I think of the years and the love that I’ve known
I’m an old woman now, and nature is cruel
‘Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body it crumples, grace and vigour depart;
There is now a stone where once I had a heart.
But inside this carcass, a young girl still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys, I remember the pains
I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few-gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes nurse, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman. Look closer, see ME.

Author – Anonymous Dementia Patient

But dementia doesnt have to be a negative experience (yes we still want a cure and want to have our loved ones back to what they were), but as a health care worker I feel a real passion for the care of these very special people and their families. I like to endeavour to treat each person with the individuality and respect that they deserve no matter how many times I have to explain who I am and what my role is.  And life can still be enjoyed with activities that are appropriate for their understanding and abilities.  What we need is more research, more volunteers, and compassion for all involved. So spare a thought for those with dementia and their families for one day we may very well be in either of their shoes – and remember while you still can to live your live to the very maximum…make it count!

(song by green day)

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the  road

Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where  to go

So make the best of this  test and don’t ask why

It’s not a question but a  lesson learned in time

It’s something unpredictable but in the end is  right

I hope you had the time of  your life

So take the photographs and still frames in your mind

Hang  it on a shelf in good health and good time

Tattoos  of memories and dead skin on trial

For  what it’s worth, it was worth all the while

It’s  something unpredictable but in the end is right

I  hope you had the time of your life

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