MUSCAT – Dementia is not a normal part of ageing, Dr Hamed Al Sinawi (*), chairman, Oman’s Alzheimer’s Society (OAS) and Oman Psychiatrist Society (OPS) tells the Black & White as part of World Alzheimer’s Day, an international campaign to raise awareness and highlights issues faced by people affected by dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day is held every year on September 21. It is the focus of World Alzheimer’s Month, which is September.
10th year of global awareness
Every September, people come together from all around the world to raise awareness and to challenge the stigma that persists around dementia. September 2021 marks the 10th year of this vital global awareness-raising campaign.
The theme for World Alzheimer’s Month in 2021 is ‘Know dementia, Know Alzheimer’s’.
Most common form
While there are different forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form in people over 65. And the latest figures, on the numbers of Alzheimer’s disease patients, which has been recently released revealed that there were around 55 million in 2019 and is “expected to reach 78 million in 2030”, Dr Hamed informed.
No figures for Oman
However, figures for Oman are not available, as a system for registration for people with dementia has not been established as yet. “And even if we did, it will be an underestimation as some people don’t come to the hospital either because of the stigma or because they think the symptoms of dementia is a normal part of ageing, which, however, is not true,” Dr Hamed, who is also a senior consultant, old age psychiatrist, department of behavioural medicine, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), added.
Oman’s Alzheimer’s Society
Dr Hamed also elaborated on the role Oman’s Alzheimer’s Society has played in alleviating the sufferings of those afflicted with this disease and their caretakers.
“The society was launched in 2013 and the main objective was to focus on conducting awareness activities through different media platforms and providing support for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers,” Dr Hamed said. He noted that the founding members were healthcare professionals and caregivers who worked together to share experiences and invite others to join. “We had regular support groups and we were able to join Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), which is an international organisation based in the UK and provide support to Alzheimer’s associations and societies across the globe.
We also joined conferences and workshops in the nearby countries and were able to share our experiences. Initially, we worked under an association called Friends of the Elderly. More recently, we became registered under the Oman Medical Association (OMA), which will help give us more scope to work and get donations that can help funding our projects.”
(*) Read the full text and interview with Dr Hamed Al Sinawi and others in the upcoming feature on Alzheimer’s disease and care giving in Black & White.
(*) Dementia is not a normal part of ageing – it includes the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, learning, and reasoning — and behavioural abilities to the extent that it interferes with a person’s quality of life and activities. Memory loss, though common, is not the only sign of dementia. People with dementia may also have problems with language skills, visual perception, or paying attention. Some people have personality changes.
(*) World Alzheimer’s Month is a global opportunity to raise awareness around, educate, encourage support of and demystify dementia.
World Alzheimer’s Day is an international campaign to raise awareness and highlight issues faced by people affected by dementia. It is an opportunity for people and organisations to demonstrate how we can overcome these issues and help people live well with dementia.
Why is World Alzheimer’s Month so important?
Globally, dementia is one of the biggest challenges faces, with over 55 million people living with dementia worldwide. To tackle this global dementia challenge, ADI exhorts people, governments and medical practitioners worldwide to “work together, and to collaborate and share best practice with one another”.
ONLY TRUE GLOBAL EFFORT CAN RAISE AWARENESS: ADI
For the ADI, World Alzheimer’s Day typically coincides with the launch of the World Alzheimer Report. In 2021, their report will focus on diagnosis.
“This year’s campaign will shine a light on the warning signs of dementia, encouraging people to seek out information, advice and support, as well as contacting the Alzheimer’s or dementia association in their country.
It is only through a truly global effort that we can raise much needed awareness and challenge the stigma and misinformation that still surrounds dementia, and we are calling on everyone to do something during September, however small or large, through our campaign ‘Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s’,” a report in their website said (SOURCE: ADI SITE).