Kristine Mattis On Dementia
I put together this recent piece during a few moments I could steal away because I thought it was an important topic that needs to be seriously addressed, even, or especially, during this global pandemic. On second thought, I realized that there could be legal issues with the content, which might explain why it was not published in some of my more “regular” venues (and why I decided not to publish it on my blog). Or, of course, it just might not be of interest. But in case you are interested, I have attached my essay about the alarming symptoms being demonstrated by
name redacted. I have also pasted it below with a pseudonym in place of . name redacted.
Thanks for reading.
Peace and Be Well,
Dementia is Not a Joke But it Should be a Democratic Deal-Breaker
Much like cancer, few if any people in the United States will go through life untouched by dementia. Whether it be your grandparent, parent, spouse, partner, or yourself, chances are you will be affected by this neurological ailment, most often manifesting itself in the form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Though there are several other types, sometimes stemming from illness or injury, by far the most common dementia in modern Western cultures right is now Alzheimer’s. According to figures from the Alzheimer’s Association, 10% of Americans over the age of 65 are afflicted. The rates only go up with age, with almost a third of adults over 85 obtaining this diagnosis.
Lately, it has become apparent that something is amiss about a certain front-running Democratic Presidential candidate. Let’s call him Dem Candid for short. Forget about his blatant plagiarism, his strong history of prevarication, his “aw, shucks” form of sexual harassment, and his poor policy record over the years. All those issues have been documented ad nauseam and by now should be profound and obvious reasons to preclude Dem Candid from “electability.” However, if he indeed has dementia, which has been jokingly speculated based upon his foibles, missteps, verbal gaffes, and erratic behavior along the current campaign trail, then it is deeply troubling that he be allowed to continue his campaign.
As Alzheimer’s begins, it is sometimes hard to determine. Those who are afflicted can mask their symptoms well. Family and friends may notice some changes in memory or behavior, but often chalk it up to plain aging, partially because the symptoms can easily be consistent with aging, but also because facing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a tremendous burden to bear. Patients can often fake their diminishing mental capacity. Only people who consistently speak with or see the person with Alzheimer’s may notice any problems.
In the early stages, mental acuity can fluctuate from day to day and even from moment to moment. One second you will think that your loved one is normal and your worries are overblown, the next you will see clearly that nothing is at all normal, and the forgetfulness, confusion, and/or behavioral changes in your loved one will return with a vengeance.
The National Institutes of Health lists the following ten signs as key indicators of mild/early stage Alzheimer’s dementia:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Trouble handling money and paying bills
- Wandering and getting lost
- Losing things or misplacing them in odd places
- Mood and personality changes
- Increased anxiety and/or aggression
Dem Candid’s inability to complete sentences during some speeches, his meandering train of thought while giving public addresses, his mistaking circumstances, places, and days, his unfounded agitation, his loss of normal social filters – as in the case of name-calling and verbally harassing constituents – point to a clear decay in normal capabilities. No politician should forget the office for which they are campaigning. No politician (or American) should be unable to recall the conclusion of the phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident …” No politician should tell a citizen that he is “Full of shit” or that she is a “Lying dog-faced pony soldier.” No politician would ever act that way under normal circumstances.
Full disclosure: Dementia has come into my life through several people close to me. I know the reality of having a loved one with the disease because I am currently living it. The situation is extraordinarily sad, frustratingly difficult, unendingly stressful, and wholly unpredictable. Every dementia patient has his/her own personal journey through the disease, as do his/her family and caregivers. Regardless, it is a dreadful path that inexorably alters the lives of everyone involved.
My own life is no longer my own, Because of the arbitrary, irrational, and nonsensical rules and biases of our corporate capitalist society, my life is also virtually over. As of now, it is in a kind of a holding pattern from which I will probably never recover personally, financially, vocationally, or emotionally. And the worst part is that if there ever comes a time when I might be able to recover, that inevitably also means the tragic end of the road for my loved one.
Ironically, there is only one potential major party Presidential candidate, now (and in my lifetime) who ever offered a chance to help those suffering from dementia, as well as those caring for dementia patients. That candidate is not Dem Candid.
The provisions in Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All policy, which resemble the health care policies of almost all other industrialized nations on earth, would greatly enhance our ability to provide competent, comprehensive, compassionate care to dementia sufferers. Moreover, Medicare for All, as well as other pro-social policies of the Sanders campaign, could help alleviate the financial burden to those diagnosed with the disease and to the people who care for them.
Currently, about 15.7 million adults in the U.S. provide unpaid care to family members with dementia. The cost of skilled nursing care for dementia patients residing in a memory care facility averages over $7000 a month and can run upwards of $15-20K/month in more expensive areas of the country. Obviously, this figure is completely unaffordable for most Americans. Yet, rates of Alzheimer’s disease are continuously increasing in western populations and there is no sign of abatement.
Every since I was a small child, I have had a special sympathy for those impaired with stuttering syndrome, like Dem Candid. I also empathize with the many heartbreaking losses he’s experienced over the course of his life. Nevertheless, my sympathy for Dem Candid’s lifelong hardships does not provide me reason to vote for him as a Presidential nominee; they merely engender empathy as a human being. But more, if Dem Candid is indeed now suffering additional adversity in the form of dementia, another circumstance with which I can personally identify, that fact offers not just me but everyone specific cause to NOT vote for him.
If Dem Candid is demonstrating symptoms of dementia, there is no doubt that his family, his handlers, and his close campaign staff realize his issues. If Dem Candid indeed has any signs of Alzheimer’s or any other form of decreased intellectual competence, it is the height of irresponsibility and depravity for all involved in the Democratic party to allow him to continue his campaign, let alone be elected to the highest office in the U.S. We already likely saw this occurrence with Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Though the facts are controversial, most of America noticed a clear decline in Reagan’s cognitive capabilities over the course of his two terms. Not surprisingly, his namesake son suggests that Reagan’s Alzheimer’s began while in office.
As evidenced by all recent history, the Democratic leadership possesses such equally craven corruption and contempt for democracy as the Republicans. To push forth a Presidential nominee who may be completely incapable of assuming the position for which he could be elected is cruel and reckless. All this just to avoid the election of Bernie Sanders, a man who might try to help ameliorate some of the enormous exploitation of people and of our planet by the very same political leaders and by all who inhabit their wealthy and powerful circles.
Through mere statistical probability, the majority of Americans will experience Alzheimer’s either directly or indirectly over the course of their lives. Most of us know, or will learn to know, that though some symptoms, in isolation, may be funny, the disease is absolutely no laughing matter. As far as running for President, for any society with a hint of democracy and decency, dementia should be an absolute disqualifier.