Putting mind over matter
By Anesta Henry | Wed, September 19, 2012 - 11:20 AM
Her grandmother, mother, brother and uncle all battled with it.
Pamelia Brereton has an intimate knowledge of Alzheimer’s, having watched four of her loved ones suffer with the incurable disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death.
Familiar with the toll it can have on the body and the mind, with the help of Dr Ermine Belle, Brereton focused her energies on forming the Barbados Alzheimer’s Association, of which she is the president.
The association was conceptualized to address the needs of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and also educating the public about the disease.
“There are about 38 million people in the world with Alzheimer’s and, as we sit here, somebody right now is being diagnosed. In Barbados, we had 3 500 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and that was back in 2007,” she said.
“Imagine what the numbers are like now. This telephone rings all the time or sometimes I come to the office and there is somebody waiting to talk. ‘What can I do?’ ‘How can you help me with my mother? She is driving me crazy’. ‘My old man, my brother’; it never stops.”
Brereton took time out from planning activities for this week, as part of the observance of Alzheimer’s Month, at the association’s Black Rock, St Michael office, to talk about the disease, its effects, and the association’s goals, particularly that of establishing a day care centre.
She stressed that Barbados was an aging society and no matter how young, pretty or bubbly an individual was, eventually they will either get old or die young.
“While nobody knows who is going to get Alzheimer’s, the disease does not discriminate.
“And the number of Barbadians being diagnosed is growing annually. More families are living in distress. More families are crying out for help and support with their loved ones.
Brereton said the projected day care centre, which will cater to Alzheimer sufferers of all age groups, would be the answer to wipe away at least some of the tears of many.
“My dream for the day care centre is very big. I am looking for somewhere very calming, very serene, high guard walls and electronic gates; because people with Alzheimer’s tend to walk away and you need to make sure that they are safe. Caregivers will be well trained,” she said.
“I will like to see it established to the point where you can leave people overnight or for a few days and take off and go on a little holiday. Even for half a day, so that you can go spoil yourself and get your body massage and your hair done. The stress alone of taking care of a person with Alzheimer can send you to get Alzheimer’s as well.”
Through the July launch of Making Sense Out Of Cents project, a joint initiative of the Central Bank of Barbados, the Rotary Club of Barbados West and the Alzheimer’s Association, there are plans to collect five million one cent coins by the end of the year to secure the day care facility.
“We don’t have lots of money, so we are begging people now. I am hoping that somebody would come forward and say look, ‘we have an old plantation in the countryside where there is not lots of traffic’ or to come forward and say, ‘take this cheque to help out’.
“I know there are people out there who have it but they are probably not hearing us,” said the president of the association which does not receive a subvention from Government.
Brereton, who formerly resided in Canada, said: “Years ago, we use to say the more intelligent you are the least chances you have of getting Alzheimer’s.
“But, it is proven now that “the intelligent and the ones not so intelligent can get Alzheimer’s disease.
“It does not matter how much money you have, if you are going to get Alzheimer’s, you are going to get it. I think those who have the money should say, ‘Look, considering I live in Barbados and we have such a high aging society, let me lend a hand to the Alzheimer’s Association’,” this week’s WEDNESDAY WOMAN suggested.
- Editor's Choice