OVER 180 health care professionals, doctors, social workers, family members and other caregivers from across the island, attended the seminar on Alzheimer's disease conducted by the Florida Association of Volunteers for the Caribbean (FAVACA) in association with the National Council for Senior Citizens.
Research conducted by Dr. Denise Eldemire-Shearer, Chairperson for the National Council for Senior Citizens in 1994, showed that Alzheimer's disease is not as prevalent in Jamaica as was once believed, and only 10 per cent of the ageing population showed any sign of mental impairment. That figure has not changed.
The Alzheimer's Seminar under the theme "Caring Awareness Caring More", had as its objective to sensitise the population, that is, caregivers, on what it is that is being identified as Alzheimer's disease. It was felt, therefore, that since Jamaica had an ageing population, the training of the care of the elderly was timely.
Dr. Eldemire-Shearer said that the need for health providers to be sensitised to the nature of the disease was necessary, so that it does not become a problem, if and when, there is an increase in the number of the ageing population who are present with the disease.
US health care experts LuMarie Polivka-West and Tom McGough from FAVACA conducted the seminar. Mrs. Polivka-West called upon local ministers and churches to become more involved in the care of the elderly, especially people suffering from age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's.
The health care experts were presented with gifts at a dinner party hosted by the Chairman of the Senior Citizens Clubs, Arnold Foote, at his residence. Mr. Foote thanked them on behalf of the Senior Citizens Clubs of Jamaica, "for all the assistance that you have given over the years and especially for the seminar on Alzheimer's that you are conducting for our members... I would also like to thank you for extending the course, beyond our membership, to the wider society- the people of Jamaica."
FAVACA is an organisation that responds to the needs of a country, through the expertise of their members in conducting seminars free of cost. The organisation has worked with the School for the Blind, the 4-H Movement and the National Council for Senior Citizens to produce a CD and cassette tapes of songs and stories by senior citizens.