‘Remember Me,’ makes its point – Alzheimer’s does exist in Oman
Lakshmi Kothaneth – MUSCAT – Sept. 30: The ‘Remember Me’ event to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s condition brought an understanding on the importance of the right support for care givers. The World Alzheimer’s Day was marked by Sultan Qaboos University Hospital and Oman Alzheimer’s Society at Muscat Grand Mall on Wednesday. The winners of the photography contest were announced on the occasion with Majid al Amri taking the first price, Faheem al Malki the second place, followed by Abdullah al Saidi in the third place. ‘Remember Me’ event also conducted blood sugar and cholesterol tests bringing in focus the connection of Alzheimer’s with diabetes and hypertension. Cognitive tests were also available for visitors to take part in. In addition to psychiatrists and psychologists, there were participation from the Alzheimer’s patients support group as well as care givers of patients who were often family members. Alzheimer’s Support Group in Oman is to educate, empower and support. In the support group members got to meet people with similar experiences and challenges. “Once a month we hold a meeting with the support group who are all care givers. All of them have a family member – father, mother, brother or sister who suffers from Alzheimer’s. It could be a moderate condition or severe. We share experiences and follow up on each other. The senior psychiatrists guide us in order to take care of the patients in the right way,” explained Psychologist Hashil al Hatmi. “It is important for everyone to know that Alzheimer’s exist in Oman. There is no 100% cure, instead interventions such as family therapy and group sessions can help the care givers,” he added. Salma al Riyami gave up her job once her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago. “In the beginning we had no idea what was this disease and what to do about it until we took him to Sultan Qaboos University Hospital. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but we did not know what Alzheimer’s was. Then we came to know about the Oman Alzheimer’s society. Slowly we began to learn about the situation and how to take care of our father. Now it is very normal at home,” said Salma. When asked what was the most difficult part of having a family member afflicted with Alzheimer’s Salma said: “The most difficult part is accepting that your father does not know you anymore. He remembers his wife’s name but not who she is.” Salma’s father does not recognize any of the family members but she stressed for the family he is still the father and that is exactly how they treat him. But not all patients are that lucky and that is why health experts want the people to be aware and take early actions as Alzheimer’s cannot be cured, but progression can be slowed down. Qutba al Ghafri, specialises in Mental Health Nursing and extends support to the care givers. “Care givers are the most important part of the whole process. We have workshops called, ‘Friends of Alzheimer’s’. “We take volunteers and give them accredited workshop. We train them to recognize Alzheimer’s patients. Amongst the elderly there are signs and symptoms. Once they recognize the patients the volunteers will train the care givers how to take care of the patients with this disorder. Most importantly volunteers also spread the awareness on Alzheimer’s,” explained Qutba. The experts point out that providing care to people with dementia is stressful experience and has been associated with high burden of care. Such issue has been under-researched in the Arabic part of the world, which is why the Behavioural Medicine at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital conducted the research. The study concluded that increased burden was evidenced to be associated with higher incidence of mental disorders. Screening and early intervention will impact positively on the care giver as well as the patient.