Did you know that 1 in every 10 Filipinos aged 60 and above have signs of early dementia? Sadly, the same number remains mostly undiagnosed. And since a great majority of the country’s population is still not aware of this condition, people with dementia often suffer in silence, especially in a family with no knowledge of proper care.
The World Health Organization defines dementia as “a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities.” Dementia is not a disease, but a set of symptoms caused by the progressive damage to brain cells. It is not something that naturally occurs with aging, and affects not just the memory, but other cognitive functions as well. These include the faculties for learning, judgment, and even language.
It also comes with the loss of ability to control emotions—essentially rendering people suffering from it to become heavily dependent on the care of others.
There has been much buzz about dementia online, thanks to a Christmas commercial released by leading milk brand Alaska Milk. Entitled “Paalala”, the video gives everyone a glimpse of the emotional struggles of those whose loved ones suffer from dementia; of struggling to come into terms with the fact that someone you care about is slowly unraveling along with his or her memories.
Seemingly tugging on netizens’ hearts, the now-viral video (which got over 3 million views on Facebook just five days after it was uploaded) was shared by various personalities including comedian Pokwang, who on her post, expressed her gratitude for the fact her mom is still alive despite having dementia.
She wrote, “Grabe naman ang iyak ko dito….naalala ko si nanay ko. <aswerte kami kasi kasama pa rin namin sya, at iyon naman ang pinagdarasal ko lagi yung makasama pa sya namin at ng mga apo nya na mahal na mahal sya. Mama mawala man kami sa isip mo pero alam kong sa puso mo yakap mo parin kami ng mga apo mo at mga kapatid ko. We love you.”
There are many forms of dementia, but the most common one is the neuro-degenerative Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60-70% of cases worldwide. Pokwang’s mother, Gloria, suffers from Alzheimer’s. In a 2017 interview, the comedienne admitted that her mother has reached the point where she no longer remembers the names of her children.
“Woven together throughout the course of our lives, memories form the unique narrative that is our identity. For the holidays, Alaska Milk is taking this opportunity to put the spotlight on a condition that affects many Filipino families,” shares Harvey Uong, Marketing & Business Development Director of Alaska Milk Corporation.
He adds, “The Philippines is experiencing a significant demographic aging, and along with it, dementia is becoming more prevalent. As a brand that has consistently been present in the Christmas tables of Filipino families for many generations, we want to our holiday efforts to be more hardworking; to be driven by the desire to give back more than ever. Furthermore, we want to encourage people to create more loving memories—with families, especially. Because as the strands of memories unravel, more often than not, it’s the memories made with love—the ones that are stored in our hearts—that stay.”
Other personalities have also expressed their reactions to the video on their respective social media pages: