When Forgetfulness Is Bliss


Dementia is a frightening mental illness. What’s more frightening about it is that it strikes indiscriminately. You do not need to have a particular pre-condition to make you prone to be inflicted by it. It strikes the rich and the poor; the educated and the uneducated; the old and the young. It’s symptoms become increasingly noticeable over time. Memory loss is the most common tell-tell sign but that’s only the beginning. It gradually gets worse. When it affects a person’s thinking skills severely enough it will hinder his ability to perform everyday task such as preparing meals, paying the bills, recognising loved ones, changing clothes and brushing teeth. Worst of all, dementia is not terminal. That is, no one dies from dementia but lives with it for the rest of their lives – not only them but their loved ones too.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.

Dementia is often incorrectly referred to as “senility” or “senile dementia,” which reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging.

I was the Apex Harmony Lodge, the first and only nursing home for dementia patients in Singapore, recently where a friend works. She educated me on the dreadful disease. After an hour of listening to her, I came to the conclusion that dementia is a wasting disease that makes whatever Stphen Hawkins has look like a mild headache. Dementia destroys not the body but the soul till it recognizes no one and is unrecognisible by anyone.

People with dementia are forgetful. They can forget where they left they things. They can forget where they live. They can forget their spouses and children. They can forget what they had for lunch half an hour ago. (Maybe you cannot remember what you had for lunch today, but don’t worry you probably are not suffering from dementia.) They can forget an offense ten minutes after it had happened. “Perhaps that is why they look younger than their actual age,” my friend remarked.

I was inspired. “Here is one situation when forgetfulness is bliss,” I thought.

My friend’s remark made me recall the time when I was a hot- tempered person. Hard to please. Easily offended. It messed up my life and relationships. I was able to forgive; it was forgetting that I had trouble with. But to forgive and to forget are two sides of the same coin – you got to have both.

So, I taught myself to forget. (No, I did not have self-inflicted dementia.) And what a blessing it is. Although it was not my intention or hidden motive, my health in general improved and my appearance… People tell me that I look younger and younger. Even though I have hit the big  “5-0”, most people mistakenly think that I am in my thirties. The only give away are my grey hairs.

You should certainly try this at home.