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Show full transcript for What makes Dementia Different video

Every other disease in our world today can be described to you. A person that's suffering from some heart disease can tell you, "My heart's beating really fast. I'm starting to feel a little lightheaded," they can talk you through it, almost. Diabetes, they start to develop some ketones and everything gets off, so they start to get lightheaded as well and they can actually tell you. Every disease almost, and dementia is the sixth Alzheimer's disease, it's the sixth leading cause of death and the only one of the 10 that has no cure. So, we can do some symptoms management, but that's not even very good. It's very limited.

So, what we have is a disease that they can't tell us what's happening. It's the only disease, they can't say a word. And to add insult to injury, we aren't really even that definitive on the actual diagnosis until autopsy. When we look at a brain image of someone who's experiencing dementia, we can see the widening of the sulci, we can see the fluid-filled cavities, we can see some of that and we can see some of the lesions in the brain as a result of it. But there are a lot of people who we've looked at that brain image that looks exactly like someone who... That we can look at two together that look much the same, and this one is still functioning in the environment relatively well. This one is in late-stage dementia.

So, you see, the coping mechanisms, we have yet to break that code. So, why wouldn't you want to take the time to figure out what it might be like for these people since they can't tell us? To me, it's almost, for lack of a better explanation, it's almost a bit self-absorbed not to want to figure out how we can help these people who are voiceless. And that to me is that human nature is to learn and to be curious and to grow and to be empathic and we can't do any of that unless we take a minute to see what their life is like.