Qatar joins world to challenge stigma surrounding dementia

Qatar joins world to challenge stigma surrounding dementia

Stigma and less awareness associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia continues to be a major factor delaying the early diagnosis of the disease and appropriate care. Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has organised a series of public events taking place throughout the month to address this challenge.

“There is a limited understanding of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Many people think it is a normal part of ageing. In many cases, family and friends simply do not know how to talk about someone they care about when that individual is experiencing a significant decline in memory, reasoning, and thinking abilities. Stigmatisation and lack of information surrounding this disease, and dementia in general, remains a global health problem,” said Dr. Hanadi Al Hamad, National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Ageing and Senior Consultant and Chairperson of Geriatrics and Long Term Care at HMC.

 September 2019 marks the eighth World Alzheimer’s Month since the campaign was launched in 2012. From previous studies, an average of 2 out of 3 people globally have little or no understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementia in their countries.

“The stigmatisation and lack of information surrounding dementia remains to be a global problem that calls for global action. Most people often think that this disease is a normal part of ageing,” said Dr. Shafi Khan, Generic Fellowship Program Director and Deputy Chairperson of Geriatrics and Long Term Care at HMC.

“There are over 200 subtypes and causes of dementia. Two most common causes are Alzheimer’s disease which accounts for up to 60 percent of cases and vascular dementia which is secondary to vascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and stroke. But there are many other conditions that can mimic cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems, depression and vitamin deficiencies,” he added.

In recognition of World Alzheimer’s Month this year, the Qatar National Dementia Plan team has planned a series of events to raise awareness of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are organising sessions for the general public as well as events that are targeted at educating healthcare professionals. We will be reaching out to the first responder’s front line staff including police, traffic, and ambulance service. We will raise awareness due to the fact that people with dementia can have high risk of safety issues. Aim would be for them to identify people with dementia easily and interact with them safely,” said Dr. Khan. “We will also go to universities and educate the younger generation about various aspects of dementia,” he said.

Individuals with dementia will present with behavioural and psychological symptoms such as agitation, aggression, restlessness and can be very challenging to manage. These can be distressing to both people suffering with dementia and those caring for them.  People with dementia may experience problems communicating and may struggle to express their preferences and needs. If these are understood and responded appropriately then the quality of life significantly improves both for people with Dementia and carers.

“National Dementia Training Program led by a team of trainers from Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) Singapore and ADI Indonesia is being held at present in Doha. The programme includes a day of training designed especially for staff and carers family caregivers and will coincide with the launch of HMC’s annual dementia awareness campaign,” said Dr. Khan.

Sourcer: Peninsula