New Delhi: Nirmal Mehra, was 70, and principal of a well-known school in Delhi when signs of dementia began to show up. Mehra, an army officer`s wife and highly popular among her social group, started getting confused about directions and people.As her disease became more severe, Mehra began losing memory of recent events and even stopped identifying her own family members."She remembered her brothers and parents and longed to go back to them," recalls her daughter Poonam Natarajan, who is chairperson of National Trust under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which works for the welfare of people with autism, cerebral palsy, and other mental problems."She was very active and social, and did not want to stop her work. But with dementia, she could not have held her position as the principal, and we had to force her to quit," Natarajan said with moist eyes, recalling her mother at a workshop organised by Helpage India. A portrait of Mehra placed on the table showed her as a beautiful woman in the prime of health, making one wonder if such illness can strike people so active.Mehra died last year at age 80 after suffering with dementia for 12 years. Her story is one of the many stories of suffering due to the disease which erases memory and takes away the ability to do day to day work.Healthy ageing has been taken up as the theme by WHO for World Health Day this year.India will have around 10 million patients of dementia, a disease related to aging, by 2020, according to a recent report.
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