Uniting against Alzheimer's: Seychelles' ongoing battle
On September 21, the world pauses to observe World Alzheimer's Day - a solemn occasion to reflect on the formidable challenges faced by individuals battling Alzheimer's disease in Seychelles and across the globe. Alzheimer's, a relentless and debilitating condition that erodes memory and cognitive function, not only steals away one's past but also casts a profound shadow over families and communities.
A Global Challenge
As we come together to commemorate World Alzheimer's Day, it is imperative to acknowledge that Alzheimer's is not confined to Seychelles; it is a global concern. Data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States paints a stark picture:
- In 2020, approximately 5.8 million Americans grappled with Alzheimer's disease.
- While Alzheimer's can strike at a younger age, it predominantly manifests as individuals grow older, with the risk escalating significantly with advancing years.
- The number of individuals living with Alzheimer's disease doubles every five years beyond the age of 65.
- Projections point to a daunting future, with the number of Alzheimer's cases poised to nearly triple, reaching 14 million people by the year 2060.
While Alzheimer's remains a complex condition with elusive causes, advancing age stands as the most recognised risk factor, and genetics may also play a pivotal role in its development.
Seychelles' Resolute Response
The rising tide of Alzheimer's in Seychelles has not gone unnoticed. In 2016, the Seychelles Alzheimer Foundation emerged, a beacon of hope founded by a group of Seychellois who shared a common concern. Nâne Lionnet, a member of Seychelles Alzheimer's Foundation, reveals that in 2023, Seychelles grappled with an estimated 1,000 cases of Alzheimer's - an urgent call to action. The Foundation's primary mission revolves around improving the lives of Alzheimer's patients and their families.
In 2016, the Seychelles Alzheimer Foundation emerged. (Seychelles Alzheimer Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
The Foundation's unwavering commitment takes shape through multifaceted initiatives, encompassing home visits, caregiver workshops, and support group meetings. These endeavours are instrumental in providing essential support to both patients and the dedicated caregivers who navigate the intricate landscape of Alzheimer's.
A Vision for Specialised Care
Among the Foundation's enduring aspirations stands the creation and operation of a Memory Care Home - a haven designed to offer specialised care tailored to the unique needs of Alzheimer's patients. In 2018, a significant milestone was achieved when an essential memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed with the then Health Minister, Jean-Paul Adam. This MOU underscored official recognition and support for this pivotal initiative.
Despite the commendable efforts, progress toward the realisation of the Memory Care Home has been measured. The pressing need for such a facility becomes increasingly apparent as the challenges associated with Alzheimer's continue to mount.
Dr. Sushant Aildasani's Insights
Dr. Sushant Aildasani, a leading neurologist from Apollo Hospitals in India, offers critical insights into Alzheimer's disease. He emphasises that Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that encompasses a spectrum of clinical features, from mild cognitive impairment to complete dementia, language difficulties, behavioral abnormalities, and eventual bed-bound states.
Dr. Aildasani underscores a stark reality, the absence of a single-point cure and complete remission therapy for Alzheimer's disease. However, he brings a ray of hope by highlighting that, while challenging, Alzheimer's can be prevented through lifestyle modifications. Adopting a healthy, active lifestyle, consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and avoiding alcohol, smoking, drug addiction, red meat, and processed foods can play a pivotal role in preventing the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
Global Collaborations and Expertise
The Seychelles Alzheimer Foundation has cast its net wide to harness international expertise. Notable initiatives include the visit of Dr. Rhoades from the University of Washington, who conducted comprehensive medical professional dementia training in November 2018 to caregivers and interested individuals during his 10-day sojourn in Seychelles.
Dr. Rhodes with the participants of the workshop. (Seychelles Alzheimer Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
In 2019, Seychelles' Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the city of Umea in Sweden, signed a crucial memorandum of understanding aimed at developing a comprehensive geriatric plan with a specific focus on dementia. In 2022, Seychelles welcomed Dr. Yared Zenebe Zewde, a neurologist from Ethiopia, who diligently trained individuals and caregivers to enhance the care of dementia patients.
In a testament to international collaboration, the Seychelles Alzheimer's Foundation extended an invitation to Mr. Michael Meme—a young Seychellois who holds a master of science in dementia studies from the University of Stirling (Scotland). During his visit from October 21 to November 2, 2023, Meme, accompanied by members of Seychelles Alzheimer's foundation and volunteers, will embark on home visits, offering practical guidance to caregivers in their homes. On October 28, a formal training session for caregivers is also scheduled.
A Resounding Call to Action
On World Alzheimer's Day, Nane Lionnet, an ardent advocate for Alzheimer's awareness, has issued a compelling call to action. She emphasises the urgent need to unite in raising awareness, educating healthcare professionals and the public, and dispelling misconceptions surrounding dementia. Early detection and treatment are pivotal in enhancing the quality of life for Alzheimer's patients, and the Seychelles Alzheimer’s Foundation remains at the forefront of this vital mission.
Founding group of Seychelles Alzheimer’s Foundation. (Seychelles Alzheimer Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
Their slogan, «Remembering Together,» embodies the collective responsibility society shares in caring for the elderly and loved ones affected by Alzheimer's. By rallying behind organisations like the Seychelles Alzheimer Foundation and fostering a deeper understanding of this condition, we collectively stride toward a brighter future for those touched by Alzheimer's in Seychelles and across the world. Together, we can offer hope and support to those confronting the formidable challenges of Alzheimer's disease.