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Spotlight on Alzheimer’s

“I was telling someone the other day that I think Alzheimer’s may be even worse than cancer. At least (with) cancer there is pain and when you’re gone, you’re gone, but you can have Alzheimer’s for 10 years, 20 years and just be there withering away. It is a very frightening disease.”

These heartfelt words are those of Walter Maloney, known nationally as President of the National Union of Public Workers, and whose mother is among a number of Barbadians afflicted with this mentally debilitating disease.

On an occasion such as today, Alzheimer’s Day, it is as good a time as any to shine the spotlight on this serious ailment that has no sympathy for race, religion, rich or poor.

Many of you have either been personally affected, or know someone who has suffered the anxiety and anguish when a loved one, quite often an elderly mother, father or grand parent does not recognise you.

And there are those sons and daughters who have to face the reality of relatives and others in their care wandering away from home, unaware of who and where they are, and the danger they very often encounter.

Worse still are those who never make it back home, because they are never found until it is too late. For these reasons and more the work being done by the Barbados Alzheimer’s Association, which in recent months has intensified its effort to educate Barbadians about this illness is highly commendable.

Also worthy of praise are the various government, private and non governmental organisations that have also played a significant role in the sensitisation effort.

However, while we acknowledge no one individual or entity warrants the majority, or all, of the praise for this undertaking, today we want to single out the Central Bank of Barbados and the Rotary Club of Barbados, which have given welcomed assistance to the association in the ongoing initiative aimed at raising thousands of dollars to assist people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

With the promotion Making Sense Out Of Cents, the Central Bank has been leading an effort to collect five million one cent pieces ($50,000), by the end of this year.

Once this collection drive is concluded, the money will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association to enable the establishment of a day care centre for Alzheimer’s sufferers.

That effort intensified today where members of the public were able to make donations at various collection points across the island, including numerous government offices.

We believe Barbadians are caring and generous by nature, as they have displayed repeatedly when neighbouring islands have been affected by natural disasters, and so we are confident the fund raising initiative will be a success.

It is also our hope that in addition to tossing dozens of cents into the various receptacles over the past several weeks and in those to follow, Barbadians would have taken the opportunity to

be enlightened about the seriousness of Alzheimer’s, a disease that can affect any one of us or someone close to us.

Let’s also hope, and actually make the effort to ensure, that the interest and public attention given to such an important cause does not fade at the end of the Making Sense Out Of Cents venture.

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