??From left: Chairman of the Activities Sub-committee of the National Committee on Ageing (NCOA), Marva Alleyne; Canon Paul Lashley, Minister of
Social Care, Steve Blackett; Chairman of the NCOA, Maizie Barker-Welch and Director of the National Assistance Board, Charyn Wilson, are pictured at the seminar. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Over 3500 Barbadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and according to Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett, this figure may increase.

Mr. Blackett was at the time delivering the feature address at a training seminar hosted by the Barbados Alzheimer’s Association, in collaboration with the National Assistance Board and the National Committee on Ageing, at the Savannah Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church, today.

He said that a rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease "will have implications for the cost of health care in the foreseeable future, as more and more sufferers will have to be institutionalised or cared for within the home environment."

The Minister affirmed that through Government’s commitment to improving health and social conditions for vulnerable persons, including the older population, these issues have been addressed in the draft White Paper on Ageing, which would soon become a national document.?? According to the Social Care Minister, the draft White Paper acknowledged the need for an expanded home care programme and day care facilities for the elderly.

Mr. Blackett also noted that although "management of the disease is labour intensive and the drugs used are very expensive… the emotional costs arising from Alzheimer’s are even more staggering than the economic costs associated with the disease.

"The impact of Alzheimer’s on the family members and other caregivers is often devastating.??

Not only do they see the physical deterioration of their loved one but they witness the changes in their mental state – the disorientation, confusion and the paranoia…Indeed, the health of caregivers is severely at risk from exhaustion, worry and emotional distress, particularly at the point when the Alzheimer sufferer needs round the clock supervision," Minister Blackett pointed out.

He said that the provision of respite services to family members "who are seriously affected by the extraordinary and often intensive demands of ongoing care", was one option of "allowing the family member some measure of relief…from the stress and exhaustion of caregiving." He indicated that this was also highlighted in the draft White Paper.


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