Losing your mind is like having the covers ripped away on a cold December morning. Confusion, pain and anger swell and overwhelm, leaving one exhausted and confused.
I used to play football, wrestle and box. Eventually my taste for brutish sports caught up with me and left me with upwards of 10 concussions (No joke, but I actually cannot remember how many I’ve had).
So while I am intimately unfamiliar with Alzheimers, I am well acquainted with memory loss. I know what it’s like to forget the date, my friends and even my name.
South Korea is atempting to educate it’s youth about Alzheimers and Dementia, though with far less traumatic methods. South Korea is giving it’s youth the “Alzheimer treatment” dressing them up in splints, fogged glasses, and weighted harnesses to simulate the effects of aging. And highschool students are increasingly being asked to volunteer for the country’s growing elder population.
“This used to be hidden” and “there is still stigma and bias,” said Kim Hye-jin, director of senior policy for the Health and Welfare Ministry. But “we want to get them out of their shells, out of their homes and diagnosed” to help families adjust and give patients “a higher chance of being taken care of at home.”
Nine precent of South Korea’s population is over 65. While this is not as much as America’s 12.9%, they are beginning to come to terms with the question other industrialized nations are struggling with: how do you deal with a rapidly growing elder population.
I do find South Korea’s approach interesting trying to put young people in the shoes of elders and in their lives. I grew up in and around nursing homes so I have become accustomed to interacting with my elders. However, I remember feeling awkward, even scared around elders suffering from Alzheimers. Being mistaken for a deceased son is not a pleasant experience, especially for a six-year-old.
I think these programs could be very helpful for young people dealing with elders whose memories are slowly slipping away.