31,000 people in Jordan live with dementia

A senior man doing a jigsaw puzzle for dementia rehabilitation. (Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — Anoud Hariri, who is tending to her 65-year-old bed-ridden Alzheimer-inflicted mother, recommended to other caregivers to make use of routine schedules to help refocus the patients under their care.اضافة اعلان

“My routine includes switching off all the lights in the morning so that my mother would know its day time,” said Hariri, a part-time pre-school teacher.

“I set a specific meal time and activity time every day, and I also make sure that all the lights are switched off for nap or sleep time, otherwise, she would still think it is day time,” she told Jordan News.

Hariri spoke days after the World Alzheimer’s Day, which is observed on September 21, when Jordan’s Al Oun for Alzheimer’s Patients Care Association (AACA) held an event to raise awareness about the condition, under the theme “Educate, share, release, and support”.

The event brought together a number of professional speakers who displayed, within the topics of their specializations, information about Alzheimer’s disease, shared their own experiences, stories, as well as tips and information about how to deal with a patient suffering from Alzheimer.

AACA President Hamza Nouri said “our aim is to raise awareness, offer support for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.”

Researches indicate that around 31,000 people are living with dementia in Jordan, a number expected to rise to 50,000 by 2050, he noted.

“In Jordan, there is a need to create a national registry that can quantify Alzheimer’s disease cases,” he told Jordan News.

Director of Madaba Health Directorate Jameel Al-Qatatsheh said he hoped that one day “we will see residential care facilities and institutions established for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients in Jordan.”

Psychologist Sarah Al-Mehdawi said: “psychological symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s include sleep difficulties and aggression.”

Dentist Alaa Mansour emphasized the importance of dental health especially at the onset stages of the disease and the up keeping of dental hygiene check-ups.

Mansour addressed caregivers with tips on how to encourage Alzhiemer’s patients to continue their dental and oral hygiene routine by suggesting connecting the dental brushing with a song or an activity.

Nutritionist and General Health consultant, Mariam Mokkayad highlighted that one of the most common problems that Alzheimer’s patients face include dehydration and swallowing.
“In Jordan, there is a need to create a national registry that can quantify Alzheimer’s disease cases,” he told Jordan News.
AACA General Secretary Leen Madanat said that “on the International Alzheimer’s Day, we are proud of our partnerships with all those who support our efforts to raise awareness and knowledge about dementia, and we recognize the need to extend a helping hand to caregivers and their loved ones.”

Hariri, the caregiver, gave another piece of advice to those who tend to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

“Be patient, go along with their stories and narratives, be grateful and make sure to take care of yourself and be adaptive,” she said

Hariri said her mother was diagnosed with a form of dementia about 15 years ago. “At first, it was not obvious, then as certain symptoms started to become more severe, we went for check-ups,” she explained.

“I’m very open and I’d like to talk about my experience, especially if I can help one percent of the population, I’d be happy,” she said. “Back then, nobody knew what I was going through, and I did not know anyone with this disease that could help give some tips.”

“I had to learn everything on my own, and it was very difficult,” she sighed.

“As a caregiver, it is important to set a time for a break and go have your time and activities without feeling guilty or worrying,” she said.

“There is a need for acceptance” of the patient’s needs, she said.  “If the patient wants to eat multiple times, or stopped liking a food he used to like, you must adapt and accept the change, and the occurrence that happens.”

Caregivers also have to deal with irrational behavior, and unpredicted responses from patients towards other people, she maintained.

“As caregiver, it is important to have a good support system, allow yourself a break and a time away for self-care, including visiting a therapist or a life coach” she said, noting that “having a life coach in your life helps you to ease the burdens of the disease, and live your life without feeling guilty.”

One of the important actions the AACA had implemented was creating a support group on WhatsApp that brought together caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients to exchange tips, information, recommend doctors and therapists, and lend support to one another, she said.

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