Today’s Daily Mail says that more than 850,000 patients in Britain have dementia, and new research suggests 77 per cent of these – roughly 654,000 – are also coping with health problems such as heart disease or the aftermath of a stroke, or conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes or mental illness.
Where do these figures come from? Look on the official dementia statistics page and you’ll see that the figure of 850,000 is an estimate and the number of actual diagnoses is 537,097 – a difference of 312,903. (https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics-about-dementia/prevalence/)
The figure of 654,000 is more than the 537,097 diagnosed, so where/and with whom was this research done?
The projection that more than 1 million could be living with dementia by 2021 implies that from the 537,097 current number there would be 462,903 more diagnoses in just over two years. But of course, the 1 million is an extrapolation of the hypothetical 850,000 figure.
It’s now known that the incidence, that is new cases, has been dropping for the last 3 decades, said to be a 30% reduction. The main risk is amongst those aged 80 and over, and as this number is said to double by 2025, there will be a rise in prevalence in this group.
One thing that the article does get right is that ‘those with dementia are twice as likely as other people of the same age to have suffered a stroke or have ‘epilepsy, severe mental illness or depression.’ A stroke causes vascular damage and several studies have shown that mental illness, including depression, slows blood flow to the brain. The effects of emotions on our bodies is not taken into account, say experts, because it’s ‘messy’, not as easy as the ‘concrete’ approach. See the TED talk by leading heart consultant, Sandeep Jauhar, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwoLhdHRt_0
It brings to mind the instruction in Proverbs 23:4, ‘Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow all of life’s consequences,’ (Complete Jewish Bible). How do we do that? Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi, ‘…whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8). Don’t give negative thoughts mind space. Eat well, exercise, enjoy your friends and family, keep reading or listening to books, take sensible health precautions and laugh a lot!
So the ‘take-away’ from this article is —- don’t let the dread of dementia get you. The figures are falling and dementia is gradually being beaten. Don’t believe the hyped-up figures; look for yourself (see link below).
Also, take the sensible steps of looking after yourself as well as you can. We’re told to cast our cares upon God, because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) These are not just comforting words.
The Welsh Preacher, Selwyn Hughes, who outlived his two sons and his wife, said sometimes all you can do is pray His Name, ‘Jesus, Jesus!’ Above all, remember, that we are all on pilgrimage here, on our way Home, where there’s no dementia, no illness of any sort, only the joy of living in a place where Jesus reigns. (With no Brexit!) St. Teresa of Liseux had a little poem in her prayer book marker saying, ‘all things are passing, God never changes…’