Dementia or Jinns?

My friend’s uncle has been displaying a lot of unusual behaviours which are totally out of character. He believes his daughter is his wife who passed away a few years ago. He does not recognise his family members’ true identity at all – he refers to his son as though it is his brother and his other daughter as though it is his sister.  It is obviously a very difficult and confusing time for the family as a whole.

The family are extremely reluctant to seek medical advice which is exacerbating the situation. They believe that uncle is possessed by a Jinn. In most South Asian communities, Jinns are understood to be spirits (good or bad) who can possess a person and take over them. Being possessed by a Jinn provides an acceptable explanation to the family which justifies the confusion and changes in uncles behaviours’. However, this is not beneficial for uncle at all.

As a friend who is a Dementia Champion, I have been supporting the family by subtly raising awareness of Dementia – the signs and symptoms and the affect of these on the individual as well as the family. This is much more challenging than what I expected because uncle “has a Jinn in him”.  I have casually left Dementia related leaflets around the home in the hope that the family will take uncle to see his GP and obtain a diagnosis. It is proving to be a bit of a balancing act – to remain within cultural expectations, religious beliefs without being too pushy!

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