By MS Madela
THABAZIMBI – The Department of Social Development organized a workshop from 16-20 July 2012 on a condition called dementia, which is a very complex condition with no absolutes.
Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms caused by different disorders and conditions. These conditions are usually deterioration in the person’s ability to remember, to communicate and to make decisions. The cause of the disease is not always known. The disease does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, culture or social class. Many famous people have had this disease, which include the former US president Ronald Reagan, The boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and Iris Murdoch, the Irish philosopher and writer.
Alzheimer South Africa, a firm from Johannesburg, got the opportunity to travel to Thabazimbi to engage our carers, auxiliaries and social workers on this unrecognizable condition.
Mr Simon Moshane, the tutor on the subject, has emphasized that it is of critical importance to engage all the officials on this dreadful conditions in order for them to be able to identify people who are somehow affected.
Medicines are available, which can, for a time, prevent the dementia from progressing. A doctor must prescribe these drugs. Some drugs cause other problems (side-effects) like diarrhea, nausea, tiredness, sleeping difficulties and loss of appetite.
In some cultures it is believed that a person with dementia is bewitched or is a witch as at some stages most old people would forget where he/she was going and people start to think they are been arrested or caught by their act of witchcraft. There are signs and symptoms which can be observed to detect dementia: Cannot make decisions, speech is slurred, walking is difficult, cannot answer simple questions, cannot remember simple things, cannot look after herself and cannot find her way around. The symptoms include: Person does not feel well, has a pain, keeps forgetting things, feels anxious or worried and is always constipated.
It is possible to have more than one form/type of dementia at a time. For example, older people, in particular, may have both Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia. The less common forms are: Aids related dementia, Korsakoff’s dementia (alcohol-related dementia) and Dementia with Lewy bodies. Alzheimer cannot be cured. It only gets worse, but the way we care for people may slow down the disease.
Mr Simon Moshane, the tutor at the Department of Social Developments’ Dementia workshop.