Ever so often stories surface both online and in the mainstream media of witches who crash and land in public places on their way to and from nocturnal meetings.
They are often nearly always fairly advanced in age.
Most times they are pounced on by angry and vengeance seeking members of the public who would conduct a public inquest. Following the inquest and extraction of a confession that would most times sound more fictional than real the witch is lynched.
No thanks to Nollywood movies…every unkempt old person is a possible winching paale or maale. By Nollywood standards these winching paales and maales are basically responsible for every problem under the sun. From people failing exams to not getting a job and to even under performing in the other room. The so called witches often look confused, disheveled, incoherent in speech and so eager to render a confession once the mob gathers.
Sure, I know most people believe in the concept and existence of witches but then are all these publicly lynched old people really witches…ever heard of senile dementia?
Senile dementia is a disease caused by degeneration of cells in the brain. It is different from normal senility that comes with old age in that there is usually an underlying disease or condition. Brain tissue is damaged and brain function is affected. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Other causes include hormonal abnormalities like under activity or over activity of the thyroid gland, low levels of some of the B-complex group of vitamins, chronic alcohol abuse and chronic exposure to lead or mercury.
The early symptoms of senile dementia include forgetfulness especially of recent events, difficulty in reasoning, confusion over time, place and direction, impaired judgment and changes in personality. Over time the individual becomes passive and entirely incapable of self-care which includes eating and bathing.
Where senile dementia is caused by thyroid gland dysfunction, drug poisoning and, alcoholism it may often be corrected by treating the underlying problem. There is yet no effective cure for Alzheimer’s disease but there are currently several medications available to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you recognize the symptoms of senile dementia in a family member he/she should be taken to hospital for full evaluation by a skilled and competent doctor who would confirm the diagnosis. People around the individual should have an understanding of the condition so as to be able to provide help and support. Alterations may be made to the home environment to prevent home accidents which may be disastrous. There would be need to establish a daily routine for the individual to reduce his or her feelings of confusion. Importantly, they must always wear some sort of identification. A typical one would be a wrist bracelet labelled with his/her name, address and telephone number of a close relative who can be reached if need be.
So before you join in branding that maale or paale a winch, be sure you are not dealing with an innocent person suffering from senile dementia.