A few weeks ago, I was reading a newsletter about global aging, and it expressed concern about the rapid rise in people with dementia worldwide, noting that it would be a particularly challenging issue in developing nations. Yesterday, I was looking at a grant application form, and it asked how my area of study might benefit “third world” cultures as well. All of this made me think of Binta.
In the wonderful, whimsical, Oscar-nominated short film “Binta y la Gran Idea”, Binta is a child in a small Senegalese village. They have little technology and she attends a thatched, one-room school. Life is simple and close to nature. Community is everything.
One day, Binta learns about life in America. She tells her father of the land where people have so many fish that they don’t need to help each other get food, and so much wealth that they guard it with guns. Her father gets a “grand idea”, and recruits Binta to carry it out.
She works her way up the bureaucracy, from the village to the regional and national levels, and finally gets permission to carry out the grand idea: to adopt a child from the US, which they see as an “impoverished” country!
So thanks to Binta and her father, here’s my “grand idea”: In industrialized nations, our institutional approaches to dementia and aged care in general are impoverished. Maybe we should be asking what traditional societies can teach US about aging and the care of people with dementia. I’ll bet they have a lot to say.