When BBC presenter Rajan Datar learned that his father had dementia, it led him to discover that a combination of stigma, language barriers and cultural differences were stopping many in the UK’s South Asian community from seeking help. This is his experience.
My father Sudhakar is a friendly, genial man with a mischievous glint in his eye and always keen to share a joke.
He turns 85 in February and says he has enjoyed a fulfilled life. He was one of the first wave of immigrants from India and Pakistan who came to the UK in the 1950s.
But in the last year or so, he and my mother Hema have noticed certain changes in his behaviour.
He went through a phase of feeling very apathetic and unsociable, which was unusual for him as he has always been a very active and gregarious person.
There have been times when he has not known where he was in his own home.
And there was also a disturbing episode where he got off the bus to go to the Post Office he has used for the last 20 years, completely forgot what he was doing and began walking in the opposite direction.
“I didn’t know where I was. This was the first time [it had happened],” he explains, as we film for the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.
He has now been diagnosed as being in the early stages of mixed dementia – a combination of vascular dementia, caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, and Alzheimer’s.
Sharing this openly is not the easiest thing to do, and I certainly wouldn’t have done it without his full blessing and co-operation.
To be honest, in spite of the diagnosis, it took a while for many of us to accept that he really had the condition.
But the fact is both his elder sisters died in their 80s with advanced dementia, and British Asians are less likely to be diagnosed – and therefore be given the support they need – when they have the condition.
Very few studies have been done in this area, but one – from 2014 – suggested that by 2051 there would be a sevenfold increase in the number of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds who would be reported to have dementia.
This compares with an estimated twofold rise across the UK in the same period.
It is partly explained by the fact that many of those who migrated to the UK at the same time as my father are now reaching older age.
South Asians are also more prone to diabetes, high blood pressure and hypertension, which means they are more likely to develop vascular dementia.
But there has also been a stigma surrounding dementia within the community that has stopped people seeking diagnosis and help.
Significantly, there is no word for dementia in most Indian languages – instead it translates as a “mad” person.
My own dad said he didn’t go to the doctor initially because he “didn’t want to waste their time, they’re busy enough as it is”.
When he did, he was asked to name 10 animals as part of a memory test – and was able to recall only two.
According to one study, a third of elderly South Asians do not speak English and many prefer the sanctuary of temples or mosques to approaching care and health services.
That is the case with Charan Kaur Heer, whose husband died with dementia eight years ago, and who is now in quite an advanced state of the condition.
“She does get very depressed,” explains her daughter Manjeet Heer, a police constable in Ealing, west London.
“She has said to me that she’s just waiting to be taken, and how much she misses [her husband].”
Charan’s grandson, Ryan Sangar, is now her principal carer.
But because he does not speak Punjabi, his aunt must be used as a translator – via phone call – each time a member of the care services visits.
Manjeet says the NHS must do more to take into account language barriers and cultural differences – suggesting the need for literature, assessments and a helpline in languages such as Punjabi.
Dr Naaheed Mukadam, a senior research fellow at University College of London, says: “If more is not done to get people help sooner, this will lead to more crises and more hospitalisation.
“This is not only associated with increased distress for everyone, but also raises costs”.
My parents have come to terms with my dad’s condition, and are meeting it with their enduring stoicism.
“You have to put up with it,” my dad tells me.
“Once you accept it, you can deal with it,” my mum adds.
But there are ways to help delay and alleviate its effects.
Drop-in centres run by the Ethnic Minority Advisory Group can now be found in a few areas of the UK, providing advice, social activities and exercise classes for local people.
They aim to prevent loneliness and depression, and keep the mind and body active.
What became clear to me is that these centres are invaluable lifelines for people who can be in horribly vulnerable positions.
Surinder Kaur, from the Whitton Day Centre in Middlesex, explained that “people come in full of tears, miserable – within weeks they are transformed”.
So I cannot tell you how chuffed I was when my dad agreed to go down to the centre to meet some other folk of similar age and background, and even take part in a sit-down yoga and dance class.
Mind you, afterwards he told me that it is not really his thing and he wants to try out tai chi instead.
Bring it on, I say.
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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.
between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
heightened and clashes broke out.
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of clashes.
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.
Everyone has the right to assemble peacefully and express themselves freely in Canada – but we cannot and will not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind. We strongly condemn the despicable rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend.
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.
‘Protesting is a right’
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.
Montreal is a city of peace.
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.
“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”
When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…
NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…
Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…
Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.
Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.
While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.
“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.
However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.
Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.
No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.
“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.
Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.
“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”
In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.
Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”
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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.
Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.
Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.
Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.
Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.
“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”
She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”
Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.
Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.
Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”
“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.
The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”
The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.
In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.