Saturday 19 October, 2019

Dementia cases on the rise in Barbados

Barbadians in their early 40s are being diagnosed with the early onset symptoms of dementia.

An estimated 4,000 people suffer from the debilitating diseases and the numbers being diagnosed are on the increase.

This was revealed by Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, at a training seminar hosted by the Barbados Alzheimer’s Association, under the theme Let’s Talk Dementia: End the Stigma.

She noted that age is the greatest risk factor for developing dementia and that the Ministry is paying close attention to the trends, especially as they relate to the elderly, given Barbados’ ageing population.

The Minister also noted the important role caretakers play in taking care of elderly persons.

“The care of loved ones who have been afflicted with dementia can be a demanding and stressful task, and without adequate knowledge of the condition, caregivers can feel understandably helpless, hopeless and overwhelmed,” she maintained.

People with dementia, she submitted, are particularly vulnerable to all types of abuse and neglect in their homes and institutions because the ailment renders them unable to comprehend or explain what is happening to them.

The Minister, however, noted: “We must also give consideration of the hurt and desperation that the caregiver can experience when their ailing relative innocently speaks an untruth against them, such as ‘she didn’t feed me today’ or ‘nobody gave me a bath’.”

Dementia, she said, is a global problem and the issues have to be treated with a measure of seriousness at all levels of society

Minister Forde said discussions on the ways in which dementia can be addressed begin as a matter of urgency, and she pledged that her Ministry will do all in its power, with the assistance of stakeholders and partners, to ensure that senior citizens are cared for.

“We will do so because we acknowledge and can never forget that through their blood, sweat and tears, they would have laboured tirelessly in their formative years to build the firm foundation that we call Barbados.  We owe them our love, care and attention.”

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