Confronting the fact that a loved one is showing classic signs of some form of dementia, and doing something about it, is never easy. But if you don't, it will ultimately end up confronting you.

Back in the early 2000s, my father starting losing his grip on reality. He'd always been eccentric but this was different. He started to believe that everyone was out to get him.

Despite having retired from farming years earlier, and suffering from visual problems and general frailty, he believed he still had all the skills needed to run a few beefies on his remaining land. He became obsessed with firewood gathering and ran his chainsaw most days. He refused any help.

When the cattle started getting out on the road because he'd forgotten to shut the gate, I knew we had a problem. Neighbours started reporting near-misses with black beasts on the road in the dark.


When the pieces of wood he'd cut became consistently too long for the firebox, I offered to do the chainsawing for him. He threw something at me, told me to get out of the house and not to come back - or he would shoot me.

I did keep going back for a short time, until the day he hired a lawyer to write and tell me - and others - not to come back on the property again. I kept checking on him by driving past, and keeping in touch with his neighbour who, so far, was still allowed on the property.

One rainy winter's day, I saw that the cattle had not been shifted and were standing knee-deep in mud bellowing. Because my father's capacity to understand pasture management had completely deserted him, they were close to starving.

At that point I sought advice - from mental health experts at the hospital, my own lawyer and close friends. The first step was removal of his gun. Then the starving cattle were sold. These measures were forced upon him.

The third step was to get him mentally assessed. He consistently fought, through his lawyer, to make sure this never happened. I still have the 2005 email I wrote to the mental health team at the hospital, and my lawyer, predicting he would soon come to a sticky end if he wasn't assisted in some way, and fast. Basically, I was asking for help.

He bought new cattle to replace the sold ones. That's probably what killed him. Hoof marks showed that one of them had become temporarily stuck in a creek below the house. My father, in tall gumboots, would have climbed the fence to see what was going on.

It was there, a day or two later, that my brother found him. Stuck on the fence. One leg had slipped between the wires, causing him to flop so far forward and down that he'd not had enough strength to lift himself back up. The autopsy showed that, having probably lost consciousness relatively quickly from the blood rush to his head, he had ultimately died of hypothermia. Alone, on a farm fence, on a clear, freezing July night.

So, where am I going with this?


Donald Trump, unlike my father, has obviously never been a particularly nice person. But, I'll bet you a cup of cold covfefe he's not the cognitive full Monty.

A lot has been written which suggests he is unstable. I'm talking the same kind of diminished capacity that comes with dementia, senility or Alzheimer's. Or straight-out mental illness.

I watched him last week exit the presidential plane and completely miss the black SUV parked, with its open door held by security staff, waiting for him to enter. Instead he wandered alone and aimlessly down the tarmac before he was swiftly ushered back to the waiting vehicle. This is one of many examples. Yet it's the one that resonated with me.

I have some empathy for the man because in a sane world he'd never have become US President in the first place. Further, in a sane world, the Republicans, his advisers and his family would not allow him to stay in the position.

We should all want Trump removed - not because he's "evil" or "dangerous" or "disgusting" but because in my opinion he's unwell. Civil societies used to care about such things.

Because in a world gone mad, without empathy what have we got?