Alzheimer’s Association of TT (AzATT) marked the beginning of World Alzheimer’s Month (WAM) with its fifth Launch and Lunch event on Saturday.
Celebrated worldwide every September, this year’s theme is Never Too Early Never Too Late. The aim is to highlight the importance of identifying risk factors and adopting proactive risk reduction measures to delay, and potentially even prevent, the onset of dementia.
Speaking to attendees at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Port of Spain, AzATT president Michèle Saunders Clavery stressed that people do not suffer from Alzheimer’s but live with it. She said it was not to be feared but met head-on by way of information.
She said the work of World Alzheimer's Month, and World Alzheimer's Day on September 21, was to raise awareness, educate, challenge the stigma around Alzheimer's and dementia, as well as support those who live with the disease and those who care for them.
“The only way to come to terms with Alzheimer's disease is to get to a place of understanding. Understanding what the disease is; understanding what living with the disease feels like, and what it means for all involved, not only as caregiver, but as colleague, acquaintance, neighbour, friend and family member.”
She said the association did its part by partnering with UWI-Roytec which facilitated education and training in the form of courses specially designed for caregivers and interested people.
“A reality: Alzheimer's disease destroys, there's no sugar-coating it. However, there is another and more hopeful reality. There is always another way, and one that can lead to fulfilment for both caregiver and the one living with the disease.”
In a video presentation that left some attendees in tears because they could relate to the experiences shared, some advice was given to family, friends and caregivers of those with Alzheimer's.
It pointed out people with dementia can communicate at every stage of the disease but that communication may get less verbal and more behavioural as the disease progressed. It suggested caregivers pay attention to the tone and body language of the person, and be aware of their own.
It said people should try to have patience and be more accepting of the patient’s ability to process information.
One woman said, “Just remember that person is not willingly being difficult; they are not willingly making things complicated; they’re not willingly getting up in arms. This is the change in their brain.”
A man whose mother has dementia added, “Even right up to the end, there are such wonderful and profound opportunities to learn about onself, about life, that even if it’s just a short moment, it is real in that moment and it’s a beautiful thing.”
In attendance was the new patron of the organisation, President Christine Kangaloo who was given a token of appreciation.