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Call to support Alzheimer’s disease patients


Social-Development-Minister-Molahlehi-Letlotlo-623x350Limpho Sello

SOCIAL Development Minister Mr Molahlehi Letlotlo has appealed to Basotho to support and care for elderly people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that progresses over time and is the cause of up to 70 percent of the world’s cases of dementia.

Its most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss) and as it advances, patients could struggle with speech, suffer disorientation  which may include easily getting lost, mood swings, loss of motivation, failing to managing self-care and other behavioural issues.

Mr Letlotlo said as Lesotho joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Alzheimer’s Day (WAD), families needed to care for relatives with the disease.

WAD is commemorated annually on 21 September and on this day Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about the disease and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning.

It is often called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects relatives.

Mr Letlotlo said in line with this year’s theme “Remember Me!”, elderly people needed to be remembered as they had played a significant role in shaping the country’s history as well as that of their families and communities.

“Let us please remember them. Let us remember the impact they have made in the development of our communities, churches, families as well as our country. They are the backbone of our true culture and norms. True knowledge comes from them,” Mr Letlotlo said.

The Social Development ministry’s Director for Elderly Care Services Retšilisitoae Tsuinyane said while it mainly affected people above 65 years, Alzheimer’s has been known to occur from as early as the age of 40.

Ms Tsuinyane said the illness affects the human brain where it tempers with a person’s memory and a patient cannot be identified at a glance but mostly through their behaviour.

“People with Alzheimer’s lack understanding of things due to memory loss and so they need to be looked after by calm people who work very hard to understand the condition as well as providing validation therapy to such patients,” Ms Tsuinyane said.

“People with the condition live a very painful life as they are exposed to abuse and discrimination which is very damaging to them. People also interpret the illness through myths and we need to move away from that,” she said.

Ms Tsuinyane said her ministry had trained its officers to include Alzheimer’s education when they hold public gatherings in the villages where they worked.

“The public needs to be informed and sensitised about such conditions and I think at headquarters level we need to start holding big campaigns through the media where we inform people about the condition and how patients should be cared for,” she said.

She said the illness was stressful because they did not know its causes and it could not be prevented, cured or even slowed down.

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