Tackling the rising tide of dementia
Tackling the rising tide of Alzheimer’s and dementia head on is the mission of a local business.
Beams, an acronym for Bermuda Alzheimer’s and Memory Services.
The company became fully operational in March of 2018 and has eight employees, including physician Jo-Ann Cousins-Simpson, a general practitioner with credentials in dementia care and special interest in functional medicine.
The staff also includes an office administrator and six caregivers, who work in the homes of clients and patients.
Dr Cousins-Simpson said: “Beams was conceived out of the awareness and recognition of a real and great need locally. This need concerns the growing epidemic of dementia among the senior citizens of Bermuda, which account for 20 per cent of its population.”
It was developed by Dr Cousins-Simpson and owner, nurse Maxine Simmons.
Both have spent many years working with dementia patients and families and as a result became more and more convinced that there was so much more that could be don’t not just is addressing the symptoms of dementia, but tackling it at its root.
“We are honoured to have on board our team Dr Ewart Brown, who serves in the capacity of medical consultant, as well as Glenn Simmons as one of our directors in charge of marketing and promotions,” said Dr Cousins-Simpson.
She said the company was committed to doing its part in growing the local economy. “We have almost a 100 per cent Bermudian staff,” she said. “Only one of our employees is not Bermudian.”
Beams provides specially focused care to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, to help their families and caregivers cope with the demands.
Dr Cousins-Simpson said: “Our focus is not simply treating symptoms, or simple maintenance of the disease, we are going much farther.
“We promote and practise early diagnosis using the best available assessment tools, prevention and reversal through lifestyle adjustments accompanied by root cause, or functional medicine, which is what we practise at Beams, not only to seniors but to everyone, and, of course, support to those who are far gone.”
Filling the gap in dementia care could help the island “to prevent an economic tsunami” she added.
“Our services are of great importance because we recognise the great impact this illness will make on this society, both financially and socially,” Dr Cousins-Simpson said. “Therefore we are making our contribution to the global fight against dementia by providing relevant information, service to prevent and treat it where possible, and support persons with dementia when needed. Our goal is to lead out in the creation of a dementia-friendly Bermuda.”
Ms Simmons said: “I have been working as a nurse in Bermuda for more than 20 years, a substantial part of those years as nurse manager for the continuing care unit and the Alzheimer’s unit when it was opened. I am definitely seeing more cases of dementia.”
Dr Cousins-Simpson said she had also seen an increase in dementia patients in her more than ten years as a GP in Bermuda.
“I have also noticed that the patients are getting younger,” she added. “But what was more concerning than this, is the number of them who might have been saved from this dreaded disease through prevention and perhaps reversal had we been able to catch them much earlier.”
Some people refuse to get checked out because they fear the so-called stigma attached to dementia, but Dr Cousins-Simpson stressed that there was no cause for shame and that treatment could help.
“Your lifestyle, what you eat, sleep, exercise, habits, medications etc, plays a very significant role in your chances of getting dementia,” she said. “Pay attention to your nutrition and listen to the cries of your body.
“Resist the temptation to always take a pill for everything, that’s only treating the symptoms of something bigger. Try to find out what that bigger problem is and address it.”
Beams offers in-home caregiving services with a complementary annual doctor’s in-home visits and educational services.
Dr Cousins-Simpson said: “We have many success stories; we have patients who were suffering with mild cognitive impairments returning to normal and patients with moderate Alzheimer’s showing improvements.
“We have patients who have for a very long time not able to give a label to their health problems, are now able not only to identify from a functional blood chemistry analysis exactly what the problem is, but are well on their way to correcting it.
“Patients who still felt sick after their annual physical declared them to be very healthy, are now discovering the deeper source of their uneasiness through our functional medicine interventions.”
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