Defying dementia

Posted on October 20, 2015

It's a nice metaphor: our body is like a boat, our conscious and subconscious minds are analogous to the ship's captain and crew respectively, and the ocean is life. In which case, when the weather's good, and the captain and crew are communicating clearly, it's all smooth sailing. But when it's not? That's when trouble strikes.

The metaphor isn't mine; it's Dr Helena Popovic's whose father was diagnosed with dementia some years ago. When her mother died in 2010, and Popovic became her dad’s primary carer ("I inherited a man with a leaky boat"), instead of accepting his bleak prognosis, she resolved to halt his decline. Their story is the subject of Popovic's presentation at Mind & Its Potential 2012.

But when her father's "first mate", Popovic's mum died, "his boat was in grave danger of sinking." In fact, for a period her dad was suicidal which motivated Popovic even more to "reengage him, to stimulate him physically, socially and mentally". This was despite her training as a medical student that dementia is a fait accompli and that as a doctor, there's little you can do to treat it.

On the contrary, Popovic discovered that her dad's brain function, in particular his memory, improved dramatically when she helped him make positive lifestyle changes which included increasing his amount of daily exercise. "Every day, dad and I either go for a walk or to the gym together," she says. She also encouraged him to ramp up his social life. "I take dad to Men's Shed, senior's group activities, line dancing at the local town hall and we go on Probus excursions." And he's now volunteering (at Meals on Wheels), an activity that has been found to reverse some of the negative effects of ageing.

Click on the link below to read the full article

Category(s):Aging & Geriatric Issues, Dementia

Source material from Happy