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Early intervention needed
By Patricia Thangaraj
Early intervention for Alzheimer’s Disease and the formulation of programmes developed with the elderly in mind are two of the critical aspects needed in Barbados.
This is according to Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, Acting Minister of Health, who delivered remarks at the training seminar under the theme, “Dementia: Living Together”, yesterday at the Savannah Hotel.
She said that early intervention would be beneficial as it would “provide the opportunity for people with dementia and their families to better plan, including their finances and future care arrangements; remove the uncertainty and trauma that comes with the delays experienced in the diagnosis of dementia and fit with the complex and chronic care model.”
This would help to support dementia persons who tend to have simultaneous symptoms like arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and depression.
Meanwhile, designing programmes for the elderly must address the needs of the caregivers. “These programmes must be structured to be sensitive not only to the needs of the elderly population, but to those who deliver the care to the elderly. In addition to having quality health care and social support [this] will allow the elderly to get the most they possibly can out of their lives and bodies.”
Sandiford-Garner stated that regardless of how stressful their job can get, persons involved in caring for the elderly must remember to demonstrate care and compassion, bearing in mind what these elderly persons are going through.
“We know that for the caregivers it can be a highly stressful and demanding job of caring for the elderly, particularly those with dementia. Still we cannot let down our aged – not only is that it a negative reflection on us, but also they have earned the entitlement to get the best possible care from their fellow citizens. In addition, our senior citizens have played a vital role in the development of our nation.”
The Senator said that with proper care and a supportive family and social network, the elderly could still have a good life, which is important considering that this island’s elderly population continues to grow, starting with a 65 per cent growth between 1970 to 1990 and this would only increase by a further 60 per cent by 2020.
She added that while these figures represent success stories for both our healthcare system and our socio-economic progress, it also presents challenges in relation to this same healthcare system, especially considering that this disease is often associated with other illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, vascular disease and substance abuse.