About living with a father with dementia

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Von der Leyen and Furtwängler speak about the dementia of their fathers

Federal Minister of Labor Ursula von der Leyen and the actress Maria Furtwängler spoke to "Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin" about their father's dementia and give very personal insights into life with fathers who lose their autonomy. Both women report that their fathers' illness also changed them.

Carelessness of the father with dementia was exploited In the past, the relationship with her father was rather “complicated”, reports Maria Furtwängler. Because of her father's illness, she got to know him anew in his later phase of life. “I never knew that my father would have thanked for anything. He had become milder and more warm, "says the actress in an interview with the" Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin ".

But the illness has also led to many difficult moments. Furtwängler reports that her father did not want to see that he can no longer drive a car himself. "It's about the loss of autonomy. And driving was always very important to him, "reports the 46-year-old." My father wanted to call the police and just get the driver's license again. "

In addition, the dementia in her father led to a guilelessness that others had exploited. He lent a lot of money and was often the victim of fraudsters. "My father was a complete victim of these games of chance on the phone," reports Furtwängler. "There were at least 20 letters every day, untruthfully: Mr. Bernhard Furtwängler, I congratulate you on winning a million euros. You only have to pay a processing fee of 20 euros . "

Ursula von der Leyern reports similarly to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin”. "Unfortunately, as long as my father was still capable of business, a lot of money went into obscure channels."

When the dementia father forgets his daughter's nickname Von der Leyen's father, the former Lower Saxony Prime Minister Ernst Albrecht, lives on a property with his daughter. As the Federal Minister reports, her previous training in dealing with her father had little help. "Although I am a well-trained doctor, it tore the ground from under my feet because the film of the confused, aggressive, old person immediately ran into me." This is how the Federal Minister of Labor describes the moment when she found out about her father's diagnosis. "Of course I know that there are care levels, but how do the care levels come to us?"

The argument about driving was also very difficult for Von der Leyen's father. At the TÜV, she was advised to hide the car key, otherwise someone would come to harm. “I followed this advice at some point. There were terrible arguments for weeks, "reports the minister. But the sadest part was the moment when her father forgot her nickname." I am 54 years old. For my father, I was 53 years old, Rose Albrecht it is no longer, Röschen is gone. He only asks: 'When will Ursula come home?'

Both women report that their father's dementia also changed them. “It helped me grow up completely. Overcoming the father and cutting myself off by changing from childish admiration for this impressive father to a position that simply accepts that he is what he is, "explains the minister. Also for Furtwängler, whose father on New Year's Day The experience of having a father suffering from dementia was drastic when I died of pneumonia in 2012. "I have certainly become more patient towards myself in many ways, I don't have to do so much anymore, and I certainly don't have to do so much perfectly anymore. "

The number of new cases of dementia is expected to double by 2050. For many people, dementia is one of the most feared diseases. Because in our society, the deterioration of intellectual abilities is still subject to numerous prejudices. The impotence of being unable to do anything about the disease and the loss of autonomy are an unbearable idea for many people. Nevertheless, we have to deal with the topic, because around 1.4 million people in Germany already suffer from dementia. According to the German Alzheimer Society, the number is expected to have doubled by 2050. Around 300,000 new cases are diagnosed in Germany every year - and the trend is rising.

According to the German Alzheimer Society, the main reason for the steadily increasing number of dementia patients is demographic change: more and more people are getting older. Since age is the main risk factor for dementia, more and more new cases are diagnosed accordingly.

There is currently no cure for dementia. However, a study by the renowned Karolinska Institute at the University of Stockholm in Sweden suggests that a healthy lifestyle could make a significant contribution to reducing the risk of dementia. As the researchers report in the journal "Neurology", this applies above all to so-called vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's. Vascular dementia is caused by circulatory disorders associated with hardening of the arteries. If the risk factors for pathological vascular changes, which include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and pre-existing conditions such as diabetes mellitus, are reduced, the risk of developing vascular dementia can also be reduced. (ag)

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