In recognition of World Alzheimer’s Month this September, the Geriatric and Long-Term Care team of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) arranged different activities to promote awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common forms of dementia in the world. World Alzheimer’s Day is observed every 21 September. 

Additional activities are also arranged throughout the month in collaboration with the Oman Alzheimer’s Association and the Center for Empowerment and Care of the Elderly (EHSAN).

Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute Medical Director Dr Hanadi Al-Hamad said there has been a huge transformation in dementia perception and care over the last decade.

RAHA HMC

More services are planned to augment those that are already established in the last year or two, including the highly praised RAHA Alzheimer’s and Memory Services Helpline and the Elderly Urgent Care Unit located in Rumailah Hospital.

As the focal point for (the) elderly in Qatar, I want to ensure that the services we provide to our older population are effective and efficient, with a strong emphasis on patient-centred care.

Dr Al-Hamad said the older adult group already includes more vulnerable patients who often have multiple health conditions and life challenges.

However, patients living with dementia face even more unique challenges that require specialised care and understanding.

World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

This year’s World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month theme is #KnowDementia#KnowAlzheimers. Dr Al-Hamad said they have taken the theme to heart in their continuing effort to ensure more professional development training for healthcare professionals across HMC and the Primary Healthcare Corporation.

She said that they also engage with key partners, such as members of the police force and Civil Defence to help them better able to deal with people displaying Alzheimer’s symptoms, such as confusion, disorientation or agitation.

Many of the activities are held online to comply with infection control restrictions. Our upcoming Qatar International Geriatric and Gerontology Virtual Conference provides another valuable forum for discussion and learning on geriatrics and gerontology, including dementia. 

Dr Al-Hamad explained how the development of the National Dementia Plan 2018-​2022 and the inclusion of healthy ageing as a key pillar of the National Health Strategy (2018 – 2022) represented key milestones in Qatar’s acknowledgement of the need to promote awareness on both topics.

She said that the National Dementia Plan sets out a roadmap for seven key work areas that are aligned with the WHO Work Areas of the World Observatory of Dementia.

We have accomplished a lot across these areas but our commitment remains to do much more for our older population, and for those living with Dementia.

However, she added that a key factor throughout this month is to encourage the population in Qatar to be more aware of the importance of a healthier lifestyle and how this can impact healthy ageing and the quality of life they lead as they get older.

To this end, the Healthy Ageing website was established in 2020 as a local source for information relating to health advice and healthcare services in the country.

Dementia

Dementia can affect anyone and while genetics play a role in the likelihood of getting one form of dementia over another, increasing evidence has shown that modifiable factors can reduce the risk of developing dementia in later life, especially if addressed in mid-life.

Some of the main modifiable risk factors are impacted by lifestyles, such as physical inactivity, low cognitive activity, mid-life obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Eliminating most of these risk factors can potentially reduce dementia cases by 40%.

While the risk of dementia does increase with age, it is not a direct cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Every person dealing with dementia will have their own unique experiences, but the most common experiences include:

  • General loss of memory and cognitive thinking
  • Changes (sometimes sudden) in mood and/or behaviour
  • Disorientation and general confusion
  • Loss of ability to speak or hold conversations
  • Difficulty walking or swallowing
  • Inability to recognise people, places and/or time
  • Inability to participate in activities, including personal care and the requirements of daily life

There is no cure for dementia presently and symptoms are likely to worsen over time. However, early diagnosis and professional intervention can help the person living with dementia and their family or carers cope much better with the progression of the condition.


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