Running out of time to deal with aging

AS anyone will attest who has experienced a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's: They are shocking diseases.

In the past five years I have watched both my stepfather and my sister suffer with the diseases. It was heartbreaking.

My mother and I watched as they wasted away mentally and physically over time, lost to the family for ever.

They both died in the past three years.

We spent a great deal of time visiting them in locked security wards where they sat with other patients who had lost the ability to recognise friends or family.

We would talk to them and remind them of their wonderful lives and the blessings they had given to us. We would tell them how much we loved them.

But over time they slowly disappeared leaving an empty shell of a person who no longer could reason or understand what we were saying.

My stepfather, Sid, would look at me with tears in his eyes hating what had befallen him and the fact he had no control over it.

My sister lost all ability to walk, talk and to look after herself.

Dementia is increasing rapidly with a new report stating over the next 40 years it will rise by 350 per cent on the North Coast due to our aging population.

Our region must plan for this onslaught so we can offer dignity and quality of life for those sufferers. This will mean new facilities and human resources, but with the state our health system is in right now I doubt our region will be prepared in time to fight this looming problem in the next decade.

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