Q: REGINA, tell me, how many people in St. Lucia actually have Alzheimer’s or this dementia?
A: I do not know. However there was a prevalence study in 2010 that had a projected calculation in 2013 of approximately over 1600 persons in St Lucia were living with dementia. This is just counting persons over 65 years of age. This is not including people younger than 65 that are living with the condition or people that are not diagnosed and yet living with the condition.
Here is how it works: People aged 65 and older during the original study in 2010 that were NOT diagnosed with dementia are now 71 years or older and are at double the risk of developing dementia. This puts our numbers higher today. Statistics show that 1 in 20 elderly person at age 75 is now living with dementia. If they are 85 years and over 1 in 5 persons has developed dementia. Every 3 seconds someone in the world develops dementia. More women are affected and there are more women who are 24 hour caregivers for persons living with dementia.
This is a huge impact on our little country. We are not a country with a lot of resources at our reach. It is in our best interest to approach this holistically and become more educated and actively involved with better brain health. This country is rich with natural foods and somewhat cleaner environment than some of the higher income countries. Let’s work together with our environmentalists, nutritionists, herbalist, doctors, health providers and other health associations like the diabetes and heart associations, as well as organizations promoting brain health like neuro-movements, meditation and prayer. These all support brain health. Look into them. Don’t sit back and let whatever happens happen. Take some responsibility for your own health and the future of our loved ones.
Q: Dear Regina, I am a caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s. I was hired about a month ago. I have taken care of elderly persons for 3 years. I love it. I saw the Alzheimer’s table at the Mall last week but I didn’t have time to stop and ask for information on tips for caregiving. The lady I care for is in a wheelchair. And she fights me to get her in and out of bed or the chair. I talk nicely and she still doesn’t want me to do it. It is hard and I am getting frustrated. What can I do to make the transition easier?
A: It sounds like she is in the later stages of dementia. If she is fighting you it means she does not understand what you want her to do. There is a skill you need to learn on where to touch her and get her to connect with you. For example: touching people where there is fat or muscle will cause the person with dementia to automatically flinch and move away. Touch her on her joint areas to connect. You can develop skills with dementia training. It is important that caregivers learn as much as they can. Each person they care for is unique and having the skills is important. Caring for a person with dementia is not easy. It requires a lot of learning with new ways of communicating, patience and forgiving self for mistakes. I have found that most caregivers will try something and if it doesn’t work they assume the “no” is a “no” and the person is refusing the task or help. Families will ask why something is not done and the answer a nurse or caregiver will give is “What do you want me to do? Force it?” Now imagine leaving your mom or dad in the care of someone and the skilled person reports that statement. I would not leave my mom or dad in that care or I would advocate for that caregiver to get more education on behaviours and approaches. Some things will be an absolute “no.” Have the skill to know the difference. Nine times out of ten the “no” is to your approach not the task.
Poem by Norm Mac ~ THE LONELY EYES
Can you see them, The Lonely Eyes,
Do you hear them, with dementia`s cries,
Please look deep beyond their stare,
And deeper still, to show you care,
Behind those eyes, that say so much,
Even though leaning on dementia`s crutch,
So many tales they can tell.,
Of a time when they were well ,
Of times gone by without a care,
Through winters snows and summer Fayre,
Days of laughter, years of fun,
Basking in the youthful sun,
No worries no troubles, and certainly no fears,
Brighter future without many tears,
So much to do, so much to say,
Before dementia’s demons took it away
So the next time you see those “Lonely Eyes”
See their pain, or hear their cries,
Take a mo and look deep within,
See their smiles, and you will win,
Their heart and soul, forever more,
And together you will always soar
Above the pain and future woe
As hand in hand Together you go
Send your questions or ask about information regarding memory and cognitive changes, contact AWI at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-4509