More Help For Those With Dementia

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh, second from right, at a press conference after after launching the Alzheimer's Disease International 21st Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Friday, Aug 16, 2019. On the right is Alzheimer's Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM) patron Puan Sri Wendy Ong, ADFM president Datuk Jeffrey Ng (second from left) and Alzheimer's Disease International chairman Dr Glenn Rees.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Rukun Tetangga, with some 7, 000 members as well as senior citizens associations, will be roped in to assist people with dementia as well as their families, says Hannah Yeoh.

The Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister said the two groups would be trained to be the hands and feet and to look out for people with dementia symptoms in the community.

“We have discussed the plan with representatives from the two groups last week. We hope to start the training as soon as possible, ” she said in a press conference after launching the Alzheimer’s Disease International 21st Asia Pacific Regional Conference yesterday.

The conference theme was Dementia: A life cycle approach II: Care, Educate and Prevent.

The Star is the media sponsor for the conference.

Yeoh pointed out that the elderly suffering from dementia might need some assistance as they could leave the house and not recall how to return home.

“When people do not understand the signs and call the police because there is screaming in the house, for instance, that can be avoided if they understand the signs of dementia and provide the support needed, ” she said.

Yeoh said that globally, dementia had been listed as a disability and in Malaysia, those with dementia could apply for an OKU card.

According to the National Health and Mobility Survey on the health of senior citizens in Malaysia last year, there were 8.5% or 3, 542 respondents who had dementia and 9% were either abused or neglected.

“The findings were tabled at the National Senior Citizen Advisory and Consultation Council in June. The numbers were alarming, ” she said in her speech.

The percentage of the population aged 60 and above in Malaysia is expected to be 9.8% next year and by 2030, it will be an ageing population when 15% of the population are aged 60 and above.

“In preparing Malaysia to be an ageing nation, it is important to create a caring community so that the ageing person will continue to have a productive, healthy and active lifestyle in their local neighbourhood and supported by family members, ” Yeoh said.

“The younger generation must be aware of their collective responsibility in caring for their parents and older family members, ” she added.

She said that shopping centres should allocate space for community centres where the old and the young could mingle.

Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation Malaysia patron Puan Sri Wendy Ong said the foundation was targeting community centres to create awareness on dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) chairman Dr Glenn Rees urged people to go beyond the nihilistic view about dementia and work on the positives.

“There is a social movement across the world for dementia-friendly societies, ” he said.

He said dementia developed in the brain 20 years before it appeared and researchers were working to slow down the process.

“Dementia is a global issue and ADI is working with the World Health Organisation to get dementia on the world map as a priority health issue, ” he said.

Rees said there were 50 million people living with dementia worldwide and in low-income countries, more than 90% of families bore the cost of caring for them.

He also added that those suffering from dementia tend to lose their relatives and friends due to stigma.

“Dementia is a stigma because of ignorance, ” he said, adding that it was important to support people with dementia as well as caregivers to do their jobs.

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