“Journey through the diagnosis of dementia” – World Alzheimer Report 2021 launched on 21st September, World Alzheimer’s Day reveals that over 41 million cases of dementia go undiagnosed across the globe. This could result in an increase in demand for diagnosis, which could overwhelm unprepared healthcare systems.
At the start of September, World Alzheimer’s Month, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), the global federation of over one hundred Alzheimer’s and dementia associations across the world including Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation (LAF) are encouraging everyone to Know Dementia, Know Alzheimers; by spotting the warning signs of dementia and to seek out information, advice and support which can potentially lead to a timely diagnosis. Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be a challenging and difficult process and varies greatly around the world.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), dementia is the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases worldwide. Stigma is still a major barrier to diagnosis, and combined with lack of awareness, is hampering efforts to support people living with dementia.
Furthermore, the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic has been identified as causing additional delays and wait times for receiving a diagnosis. Awareness would enable people to self-monitor for symptoms and catch it in its tracks.
“Forecasts estimate that dementia cases will rise from 55 million to 78 million by 2030, with costs rising to $2.8 trillion annually,” said a spokesperson for ADI. In addition, LAF continues to urge the Government to implement a National Dementia Action Plan.
To mark World Alzheimer’s Month, LAF organized a “Memorable Steps 2021,” a ‘Virtual Walk’ from the 10th – 30th September to Galle Fort, in order to create greater awareness among the public.
Moreover, LAF’s Information and Service Centre (Activity Centre) celebrated its 10th Anniversary this year which coincided with World Alzheimer’s Day. This journey was begun by its Founder and President Lorraine Yu, who voluntarily stepped down in September 2019 after 20 years of dedicated service. She was pivotal to the establishment and growth of LAF.
The journey continues with Professor Shehan Williams at its helm supported by the Board and a team of volunteers.
LAF’s Activity Centre is able to accommodate a maximum of 20 persons with dementia (Clients). It operates three days a week and provides stimulating activities with a person-centred approach to its clients, supported by a dedicated group of volunteers. LAF is also a great exponent of the bracelets, which families are encouraged to buy at a nominal rate so that their loved ones with dementia do not wander off. In addition, LAF carries out free fortnightly Memory Screenings and provides information and resource materials.
LAF is the first and to date the only organization dedicated to advocating and addressing the needs of those diagnosed with cognitive impairment and dementia in Sri Lanka. Pivotal to the prevention or progression of the disease is to follow a balanced diet, engage in physical activities and continue to challenge your brain. It is also imperative to maintain social connections, and avoid alcohol, smoking and other substance abuse.
The last two years have been challenging, yet with the unstinted support of many friends and well-wishers LAF has progressed, making its presence felt in society. LAF invites all and sundry to join them in their efforts to create awareness and alleviate the suffering of those who are inflicted by this disease and support the carers among others. For more information, visit the following social media platforms of LAF.
- Website – www.alzlanka.org
- Email – email@example.com
- Facebook – Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation
By Rochelle Palipane Gunaratne