Filipino cultural barriers keep Dementia sufferers in the dark

“Why would I need to know about Dementia?” That’s the (usual) response from many people when we talk about Dementia-awareness.

What they don’t realise is that many Dementia sufferers are hidden away in our communities with little or no support. There are carers and family members tearing their hair out; not knowing where to turn to for help with their loved one – many not even recognising that Dementia is the problem.

A survey in 2008 identified the Filipino community as one in which there was a lack of Dementia awareness, which was largely attributed to cultural barriers.

“Dementia and mental health issues have a cultural and societal stigmatism attached to them, which is a barrier to accessing health services.” – Alzheimer’s Australia.

In an attempt to break down these barriers, Sydney company My Home Living Care (MHLC) created the Dementia Café project. With funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, the project aims to take the message out to the Filipino community.

Ella Magallanes Martirez, host presenter for MHLC says “As well as sharing coffee and cake in a cultural-friendly ‘virtual café’ environment, we learn about the different types of Dementia, how to recognise it and manage the consequences. Carers also learn how to support each other and what services are provided by the government.”

“Dealing with a loved one who has Dementia can be very demanding.” says Ella. “Many Dementia sufferers have behaviour problems and can sometimes become aggressive. In some Dementia cases medication is appropriate, depending on a medical assessment.”

Dementia Café sessions are conducted in Tagalog and English. There are basically seven types of Dementia with different types of symptoms. Alcoholic Dementia for example exhibits unique difficulties. Alzheimer’s has different characteristics, so too does Parkinson’s. And treatment for early-onset Dementia in younger people is best treated if symptoms are detected early.

My Home Living Care provides in-home care for the aged, disabled and infirm so that people can have a dignified life in their own surroundings. They also provide respite care so that carers can get a break.

They have a 24 hour “Dementia hotline” for confidential enquiries and emergency support. The Dementia hotline is 045 888 0909.

Many of the services provided by MHLC are covered by funding from a variety of state and federal government packages including some specifically set up for Dementia sufferers.

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