This month, Alzheimer’s South Africa is launching the first World Alzheimer’s Month with events that aim to raise awareness about the disease. The campaign will run for 30 days across the world, with the focus on the topic ‘Dementia: Living Together’. The reason for this focus on dementia is because of the stigma that is attached to the illness.
Dementia is the loss of brain function. It mostly affects the memory, language, judgment and behaviour of the sufferer.
The campaign will include a number of seminars, workshops and social events for people suffering from dementia and their carers. Memory walks in commemoration of the victims of dementia and also to bring communities together to make them more dementia-friendly will be hosted in numerous countries. World Alzheimer’s Month marks the beginning of a more engaging way of raising awareness about the disease.
We spoke to Sonya Naidoo, National Training Coordinator from Alzheimer’s South Africa, about the campaign.
How important is Alzheimer’s Month?
World Alzheimer’s Month is very important as it highlights the disease and all its associated problems.
Do you think there is awareness about the disease in South Africa?
There is awareness, however not to the extent that is necessary to eradicate the misconceptions that still exist.
What do you hope to achieve by launching the Alzheimer’s Month campaign?
World Alzheimer’s Month is an international campaign to raise awareness about the disease and the benefits of early diagnosis and for caring for people diagnosed with the disease within the home and in their communities for as long as possible.
Which are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
Here are some of the warning signs that may be indicative of the disease. However, it can only be diagnosed by a medical doctor.
* A short-term memory problem – that is not caused by alcohol abuse or head injury, and that worsens with time.
* Language problems – difficulty naming objects, finding the right word to use in a sentence.
* Zips and buttons are difficult to fasten – people with Alzheimer’s find it hard to dress themselves.
* Hygiene standards diminish – those with Alzheimer’s may not care about how they look and may not want to bath.
* Extreme mood swings – a change in mood for no reason, such as being calm then suddenly scared or angry and aggressive within minutes.
* Impaired judgment – strange behavior, like wearing underwear over top clothes, or taking off clothes in public.
For more information, visit: www.alzheimers.org.za