Sunday, December 19, 2010

dementia and language loss

Dementia is already an isolating disorder. But it becomes even more complicated because patients, with their memories collapsing back to childhood, often lose their ability to speak English if they learned the language later in life. In a nation where the incidence of dementia is expected to double in the next 30 years to one million people – and in which 20 per cent of an aging population has a mother tongue other than English or French – that means a huge strain on families looking for good care, and will require a radical shift in the country’s health-care.

D - my oma died about a year or two back.
My sis wanted to introduce oma to the most recent addition to the family - my sis's second daughter. Oma had been in a retirement home for many years, and was suffering from severe dementia.
She didn't know who we were. She forgot that at 98 she had spoken English since the end of WWII - half her life. She didn't understand the baby she was holding was her own great grandchild - though I think she was happy about that nonetheless.
She died shortly thereafter. I was glad to have seen her one last time.

D - learning a second childhood language has yet another benefit.
Should dementia set it, it increases the chance that caretakers will be able to communicate effectively. This is a strong argument for immersion into one's new nation if one is an immigrant.

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