Yutaka Tanaka -Thinking of my kids’ future makes me positive-


Feeling anxious, I went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with depression.

At work, I began to make noticeable mistakes and wondered why I was unable to remember things so often the idea that I might be suffering from dementia crossed my mind. In February 2019, I went to see a specialist which was also recommended by a boss. While waiting for the examination, I asked myself, “what will happen to my children’s future if I have dementia? It would be fine if it was only my family, but would it be problematic for my company and others around me” and hoped that I was mistaken. The doctor told me that I was suffering from juvenile Alzheimer’s disease and my mind went blank. Since then, all I thought about was negative and I became depression.

Thinking about my children made me positive.

After a while, in consideration of my children’s future, I realized that there was no point in being depressed all the time. I decided to think positively and focus on what I could do now. It was almost a year and a half since my diagnosis to accept my illness. Since “Chihosho”(the old Japanese name equivalent to dementia) had strong (negative) connotations, I was concerned I may be discriminated against should I disclose my disease. However, I made it a rule to tell those whom I contact that I have dementia because it makes them easier to communicate with me. By doing so, my family, my neighborhood, and my colleagues have shown their understanding about my situation.

I have given lectures at various locations throughout the prefecture, including a presentation at the G7 meeting.

In 2022, I was been appointed as Nagasaki Prefecture’s Ambassador of Hope. Now, I am involved in public awareness activities on the theme of “suffering from juvenile dementia” at gatherings organized by the prefectural and city governments, the Association of Families with Dementia, and the Regional Comprehensive Support Center. At the G7 World Health Ministers’ Meeting in May 2023, I was privileged to present my opinion. In order to connect with people with dementia in familiar places, I launched “Orenji Katarokai”(“Orange Talking Group”) in April 2023 through which I have joyfully been able to share problems and things to do in the future with those who are in similar situations. Although the number of participants is still small, I would like to continue these activities with the support from others.

Written by Yutaka Tanaka
Translated by Satoshi Nakano, Masako Amemiya

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