Dubai Health Authority (DHA) held the 16th edition of the Friends of Alzheimer’s support group meeting last Wednesday September 18 to raise awareness about the disease and provide caregivers with a platform to exchange their experiences in caring for their elderly loved ones.
The event, held at the DHA’s Seniors’ Happiness Centre, covered several topics relating to Alzheimer’s, including the challenges patients’ face and the role of physiotherapy in treatment.
During the forum, Dr Salwa Al Suwaidi, geriatrician and director of the centre, stressed that there is a need to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and other dementias because lack of awareness leads to late diagnosis, which means no access to treatment that is needed to slow or delay the progression of the disease.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that impairs memory, planning, judgment and ability to function independently.
Alzheimer’s Disease International and the World Health Organization said 35.6 million patients were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010, expected to increase to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115 million by 2050.
Doctors also spoke about the first signs of the disease, which include memory problems, mainly affecting short-term memory. Other signs include disorientation and unawareness of the date. They also tend to develop speech and language problems where they recognise names of the objects but will not be able to name them.
The DHA’s Senior’s Happiness Centre provides in-patient as well as out-patient services and promotes the concept of healthy ageing and proactive geriatric care for the elderly to minimise health complications and to reduce their dependence on caregivers so that they can lead an independent life to the best extent possible.