Dementia victims ‘suffering in silence’

Many Barbadians who suffer with symptoms of dementia are not being formally diagnosed and are suffering in silence –– this is according to Michael Splaine, a policy adviser with Alzheimer’s Disease International.

Policy adviser with Alzheimer’s Disease International, Michael Splaine (centre), having an engaging conversation with member of the Barbados Alzheimer’s Association, Sharon Welch (right), as the association’s president Pamelia Brereton looks on.
Policy adviser with Alzheimer’s Disease International, Michael Splaine (centre), having an engaging conversation with member of the Barbados Alzheimer’s Association, Sharon Welch (right), as the association’s president Pamelia Brereton looks on.

He was speaking to Barbados TODAY, on the sidelines of a seminar on dementia –– Can We Reduce The Risk? –– hosted by the Barbados Alzheimer’s Association in collaboration with the National Committee On Ageing at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday. Of the number of people who are suffering but still not diagnosed, Splaine said: “People call it normal aging. They get called the crazy old lady over the street. They get stigmatized. They get driven out of the social connections and their families; and this is a terrible state of affairs. It all begins with the diagnoses.

“We still have a lot of people who think that Alzheimer’s and dementia are normal aging and shouldn’t be diagnosed. We’ve got to do something about this disgusting gap between prevalence estimates and the number of people who actually get their dementia diagnosed.”

Splaine said this was a problem in countries across the world.

Barbados Alzheimer’s Association president Pamelia Brereton confirmed Barbados was no exception. She said it was a growing concern and that there had been a noticeable increase in people looking for answers about dementia.

“We had to turn away so many people from this seminar, because it’s an expense. So that tells you in itself that there are a lot of people in Barbados who have relatives or who have friends that are suffering from dementia,” Brereton said.

She stressed that the association under her leadership was doing everything possible, despite economic constraints, to help as many families as possible deal with the issue.

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