DEMENTIA, an Eye Opener to the Wider Community by Neria Soliman

An interactive community forum bringing awareness on Dementia to ageing Filipinos in Australia was held last 22 September 2018 at the Mt Druitt Hub.

It was organized by the Philippine Australian Society for Senior Citizens, Inc. headed by Mr. Jose Relunia. Guest of Honour was the Philippine Consul General Maria Teresa Taguiang. The event was funded by the Department of Health NSW and was supported by Dementia Australia and Carers Australia.

Dr Maurice Sanoza, a Geriatrician from Dementia Society of the Philippines and International presenter in Geriatrics said that “dementia is a Lewy Body Disease characterized by the presence of abnormal clumps of the protein alpha synuclein that develop inside the nerve cells.”

Furthermore, he said that the hallmark of dementia is the inability to carry out everyday activities as a consequence of diminished cognitive ability. Everybody can diagnose and detect dementia but it is important to seek attention of a Geriatric Specialist. The two most common form of dementia are Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia from those who have had Stroke.

Dementia can happen to anybody but the risk increases with age. The early signs of Dementia are: Progressive and frequent memory loss; Confusion; Personality Change; Apathy; withdrawal and loss of ability to perform everyday task.

It is essential that a medical diagnosis is obtained at an early stage when symptoms first appear to ensure that the person is treated correctly. An early diagnosis means early access to support, information and medication.

Maximise Brain Health

There are five simple steps to maximise brain health: (1) Look After your Heart; (2) Do some kind of Physical Activity; (3) Mentally Challenge your Brain; (4) Follow a Healthy Diet; and (5) Enjoy Social Activity.

As yet, there is no prevention or cure for Dementia. However, there are tips for keeping your memory sharp. These are: Avoid excessive drinking and drug abuse; Reading and keeping mentally active; and learning new skills.

Trust yourself and feel confident you have control of yourself. Relax, have enough sleep, concentrate on what you want to remember.

Minimize distractions, have a diary and carry a calendar. Repeat names of new acquaintances during conversation and organise your things.

The other resource speakers who came all the way from Melbourne were Ms Nina Catalano, a counsellor and group facilitator of Dementia Australia and Ms Felicity Rogers an Education and Training Officer of Carers NSW.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and chronic neurodegenerative disease that destroys memory and other critical mental functions. The disease is believed to be responsible for 60 to 70 percent of all cases of dementia, a broad category of diseases impacting the brain that cause impairments to the ability to think and remember to an extent that it can affect the daily life of a person.

Common symptoms include shot-term memory loss initially and mood swings, disorientation and language problems later on. Onset for the disease is usually 65 and older.

So far, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, though various medication and management strategies may help to alleviate symptoms on a temporary basis. Not much is known about the cause of the ailment, though about 70 percent of the risk is believed to be genetic. Other risk factors are believed to be hypertension, depression and head injuries.

Named after German pathologist and psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer in 1906, the disease currently impacts approximately 29.8 million people worldwide as of 2015. (Source: Wikipedia)

Updated: 11/02/2018 — 20:06:35
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