‘Estimated 2,000 people in Brunei suffering from dementia’

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AN ESTIMATED 2,000 people in Brunei may have dementia, many of whom remain undiagnosed, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said.

The ministry issued a statement yesterday in conjuction with World Dementia Month which is observed in September.

This year’s World Dementia Month marks the fifth international campaign to raise awareness of dementia and challenge the stigma of this disease.

Carrying the theme “You are not alone”, the campaign recognises that dementia is a challenging disease, not only for patients but also their families and caregivers.

In conjuction with World Dementia month, MoH recently held a dementia forum to improve the understanding of dementia diagnosis and management among healthcare practitioners.

The forum organised by the Geriatrics Unit of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital (RIPAS) was held at the Al-Afiah Hall of MoH on September 23.

The forum gathered 137 attendees consisting of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Speaking during the forum were professional from RIPAS hospital namely, Consultant Neurologist Dr Dk Siti Nur’Ashikin Pg Dato Paduka Hj Tengah, Geriatrics Senior Medical Officer Dr Onn Lih Vei, Consultant Geriatrician Dr Teo Shyh Poh, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Asfar Afridi.

Television and radio interviews were also conducted earlier this month to raise awareness among the general public of dementia and the isolation felt by patients and their carers.

According to MoH, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 47.5 million people are currently living with dementia.

This number is expected to nearly double every 20 years with population ageing.

Dementia is a broad term used to describe a progressive decline of brain function which causes changes in memory, thinking, behaviour, personality and emotions.

In its statement, MoH said that signs of dementia include confusion, changes in behaviour and personality, less able to perform every day tasks and forgetfulness which gets progressively worse.

At present, there are no medications that can cure dementia but there are treatments that may be able to reduce the disease progression.

General healthcare such as a balanced diet and exercise also plays a vital role to maintaining health.

Equally important are support and education for patients, families and care givers which can have very positive effects.

Members of the public who are worried about signs of dementia among family members are urged to see a doctor at their nearest Health Centre for evaluation.

If dementia is suspected, patients will be referred to the appropriate hospital specialist. Usually this will be a neurologist for patients under 70 years old, a geriatrician for patients over 70 years old and a psychiatrist for those with significant behavioural disturbance.

Other medical issues may also be found such as vitamin deficiency, infections, depression that may require treatment.

In May 2015, the Neurology and Geriatrics Unit of RIPAS Hospital, together with a number of allied healthcare professionals, started a Dementia Activity Group at Pusat Amal Cerah Sejahtera at Kg Belimbing, Subok.

On March 2016, the World Health Organization held the first WHO Ministerial Conference on Global Action against Dementia where the “tidal wave of dementia that is coming our way” was highlighted.

The Brunei Times