Let’s talk about Dementia

An expert in Geriatric Psychiatry visited the Swakopmund Retirement Village for a tlak about Dementia.

27 October 2021 | Health

Attendee; “…to approach Dementia with humour, although this is a serious disease, there is always something to laugh about.”

Swakopmund • [email protected]



An informative and interesting talk on living with Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease was held at the Swakopmund Retirement Village on 26 November 2021. The event was organised by Spescare Swakopmund, a private hospital focused on providing sub-acute, convalescent, rehabilitation, and transitional care programs.

Professor. Dana Niehaus a subspecialist in Geriatric Psychiatry and the head of the Psychogeriatric team at Stikland hospital situated in South Africa was the guest speaker. Hildegard Meyer, the facility manager of Spescare said the main purpose of the Dementia talk, was to give people knowledge and insight into the life of someone living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. “We invited Prof Niehaus, because he is well known for his knowledge and understanding of this disease,” she said. This was not the first-ever talk about this subject, but due to covid restrictions, it was the first event for the residents of Swakopmund Retirement Village and the families of patients in Spescare Subacute Hospital.

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia. Prof. Niehaus shared with the elderly, the different types of dementia and the causes of it. One of the questions raised was why the elderly persons sometimes don’t remember the person they are interacting with but laugh when he/she cracks a joke which the elderly individual used to make in their younger years. According to Professor. Niehaus this happens because the elderly’s emotional memory of the past is prone to remain intact compared to the new memories made.

Consultation

He advised elderly couples to bring along their children once they go for consultations with the doctor as this will make sure that the immediate family is aware of the condition and prevent the rest of the family from panicking. The professor explained that the diagnosis of dementia could include but is not limited to cognitive and memory tests (to assess the person’s ability to think), a Computed tomography (CT) scan (a useful diagnostic tool for detecting diseases and injuries) or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of the brain. One of the elderly members which in attendance at the talk, extended his gratitude towards the professor for sharing and making the elderly understand Dementia in a humoristic manner. “My highlight of the talk and what I have learnt today in this hour from you is to approach Dementia with humour. Although this is a serious disease, there is always something to laugh about.”

Common type of dementia

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's. According to www.mayoclinic.org Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. It is a continuous decline in thinking, behavioural and social skills that affect a person's ability to function independently.