Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia group’s numbers swell in the year since founding
Bermuda’s ageing population is causing Alzheimer’s to have a greater impact on the Island, but programmes are being introduced to help.
Elizabeth Stewart, founder of Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia (AAD) said few people are aware of how widespread Alzheimer’s is in Bermuda.
“It’s estimated on the Island that there are around 900 people with dementia,” Ms Stewart said. “That’s pretty high, and pretty comparable to cancer.
“You hear about cancer all the time but you don’t here much about dementia. It’s a massive issue because we have an ageing population and there’s a real lack of resources.
“My mother had Alzheimer’s, and that’s why I started the charity. She was 67, and I just found there were no resources, there was no help, there was no one to ask questions about what was going on.
“I thought this is definitely an unmet need and we need to do something.”
Since she founded the charity last March, she said the number of people seeking the group’s assistance has steadily grown.
Recently, the charity has taken on occupational therapist Marie Fay, who has been visiting patients both in the Island’s retirement homes and private residences to lend her expertise.
“The idea is that she will visit people here in the community and help the families access the situation, see if there are any improvements that can be made, help with the different issues that come up,” Ms Stewart said.
Mrs Fay said: “We make suggestions where we can and try to assist people maintaining their independence, and keeping them doing the type of things that are important to them in their daily lives.
“I have just seen two folks in the community for home safety assessments. The feedback is really positive and the list is growing.”
Carolyn Armstrong, who has been assisted by AAD in helping her father, said: “What’s nice for me, personally, is I’m not willing to put dad in a home.
“It’s reassuring for me to know that someone like Marie is here to say he could slip there if you put that there. At least I know he’s safe.”
Right now, AAD is working on several initiatives aimed at helping their clients, including the production of a free booklet titled ‘This is Me’, which seniors suffering Alzheimer’s or dementia can fill with personal information.
Ms Stewart explained: “It captures everything, things like what worries or upsets people, so if I went somewhere and met someone for the first time I could look at the book and be better able to start a conversation with them, and have some kind of link with them.
“It must be so frustrating when you are not able to talk about yourself and no one knows who you are. I think this is a really big help.”
The charity is also organising art therapy sessions aimed to help seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s active and engaged, and will be screening the documentary ‘I Remember Better when I Paint’ about art therapy on June 30.
And AAD is organising their second annual training seminar, with Ms Stewart saying the demand for such opportunities has been overwhelming.
“I think we are going to make it an annual event because there is a lot of training that people need in this field and there was such demand last year,” Ms Stewart said. “I had 80 people in a seminar. With the demand, I could have had 150 but we couldn’t take 150.”
Useful website: www.alzbermuda.com
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