Do you sometimes think dementia is a consequence of having cheated death?

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I look at my mother and all the people like her that are now living into their 90's and beyond with no quality of life and I wonder "WHY?". Many of you report that your loved ones are fighters who have overcome heart disease, cancer or other illnesses and injuries. Do you sometimes wonder if they would have been better off if modern medicine had not saved them?


All the time
cwillie, I've wondered the same. My mother is kept alive by medicine and a caregiver who does the best she can. Sunday we learned that a friend of my mother's is nearing death. My mother said, "I'm not anywhere near death. I am going to live a lot longer." It was like someone hit me with a baseball bat of reality. Her life is poor quality, but she is right. It might be another 10 years like this unless something catastrophic happens. It is quite a moral dilemma that we have found ourselves in.
First question: no, as I've learned from this site that people who develop dementia are not always "old".

I think the advances in medicine that help people remain alive longer also expose them to diseases which might not have materialized if they were living 100 years ago (+/- - just picking a time frame without being specific).

If medicine allows people to begin routinely living into their 100s, I'm sure other issues and diseases will occur, ones for which medicine is really not prepared to handle.

Second question: yes and no; it depends on the individual circumstances. It's hard to make generalized statements on these issues as everyone is so different.

There are some people who are born with so many deformities that they virtually no quality of life at all - I'm thinking of those born blind, without hearing, w/o speech, without any sensory inputs at all. And they have no quality of life; for them, I think "life" is without meaning if not torture to them and their families.

There are so many environmental factors that come into play not only for younger people but for older people.

If anyone hasn't read about the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan, do so. Babies and youngsters are being affected by lead in the water; will the babies ever have normal lives? I don't know. Perhaps they'll develop dementia if they live long enough. Or perhaps they'll have brain damage from ingestion of the lead. Animals are already being affected by the contaminated water.

I think, making a broad, generalized comment, that there are opposing forces at work: medicine is enabling longer life, but (a) extensive and widespread pollution as well as contamination by chemicals (especially in the food chain) are creating either new or worse diseases, as are (b) increased global trade with emerging markets that haven't been able (or aren't devoting sufficient resources) to manage the widespread contamination they're creating.

Does anyone really know how the viruses developed that caused some of the more recent extreme communicable diseases?

Has anyone seen the photos of Chinese in public situations, wearing masks? Or of the massive clouds of pollution or the piles of e-waste in India?

I can't even begin to comprehend how those poor people will live as long as people in industrialized countries do, or how many diseases they'll develop from exposure to toxins and pollution.

If I had that misery to anticipate for the rest of my life, it wouldn't be any life I'd want to prolong.

On the subject of dementia, and its causes, I happened to read a synopsis of a study reported by the Environmental Health Perspectives titled:

"Long-Term Air Pollution and Traffic Noise Exposures and Mild Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study".

The purpose was:

"To analyze the cross-sectional associations of long-term exposure to AP and traffic noise with overall MCI, amnestic (aMCI) and non-amnestic (naMCI) MCI. " (AP = air pollution)

I'd have to research farther to get into all the data and variables, but the conclusion struck me as relevant to this discussion:

"Most air pollutants and traffic noise were associated with overall MCI".

I guess it's not really that surprising - I knew that air pollution caused by traffic affected health, but thought the effect would probably be to sinuses and pulmonary functions.

Again, w/o following the original study, I don't know what the level of association is, whether it compounded a propensity for dementia, or what the geographic area studied was. There could be a lot of variables.

It's a good reason to get out of the metropolitan area.

A very thoughtful and detailed response as usual GA. But regardless of the scientific causes of dementia, I have a mental image of "the fates" or whomever looking at the world and modern medicine and having a conversation something like this...

"Those people just keep getting smarter and smarter with their medical procedures, I send out the grim reaper and he keeps coming back empty handed. Let's just play a few nasty tricks and then we'll see who's really the boss".
You mean long post? 8-E
I confess to having the fault of being long winded.

But I'm confused as to 8-E. I'm almost afraid to ask what it means. Did a quick Google search; most of the meanings aren't relevant, and one would be entirely irrelevant.

What am I missing?
Oh, it isn't you. The 8 is dazed eyes with glasses. The E is a monster mouth grimace. Kinda like a crazy :-) .

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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