Businesses need to be dementia-friendly: Expert

Businesses in Qatar will soon have the opportunity to join a growing movement of companies and entities worldwide that seeks to make a difference for people with dementia and their careers.

Once it completes its registration and authorisation by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI-UK) , which is now in its final stages, the Qatar Alzheimer’s Society (QAS) will launch the ‘Dementia Friends’ Qatar by this year, Dr Mani Chandran, Senior Consultant Geriatric Psychiatrist at the Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Rumailah Hospital told The Peninsula in an interview recently.

To date, there are over 50 ‘Dementia Friends’ programmes which have already been launched or in development in 46 countries. The upcoming QAS will be part of the Global Dementia Friends Network hosted by the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society.

Barclays, British Gas, BT, Heathrow, Lloyds Banking Group, and Sainsburys are just some of the most recognised dementia-friendly businesses today. These organizations are well-known for providing better support and services to people affected by dementia, including customers and employees with dementia as well as employees caring for someone with dementia.

Dementia, a progressive brain disorder that leads to the decline in memory, thinking, behavior, and ability to perform everyday activities, is an incurable disease which is also widely considered to be the greatest concern of people aged over 60 years.

In Qatar, the United Nations estimates that among people aged over 60 years, over 4,400 may currently be suffering from dementia. The World Health Organisation also reported there are now 50m people living with dementia worldwide and the number is expected to increase to 152m people by 2050.

According to ADI, the global cost of dementia stood at $818bn in 2015. ADI also estimates global social care costs alone provided by community care professionals or in residential homes amounted to $327bn in 2015, or two-fifths of the total.

Dr Chandran added: “It has now grown into a trillion dollar disease. And we are now in a stage of raising awareness to recognise the condition and break down the stigma attached to dementia. The ‘Dementia Friends’ programme will enable us to work with different corporates and institutions in Qatar to help them become dementia-friendly. The programme is currently the largest social movement that has happened for any disease.

Because dementia is not a condition that affects just the patient. It also affects the family, community, and wider society at large. There needs to be a greater understanding that dementia is a disease affecting the brain, and is not a part of natural aging”.

While the number of dementia cases is growing rapidly, with someone worldwide developing the condition every three seconds, Dr Chandran quickly added that people with dementia with right diagnosis and treatment can still live well and even work well for longer if given the right support and services by the community.

“There is more to a person than dementia. Let’s not look at just one’s inability, but to look at one’s ability that is still there,” he added.

He also said one of the areas affected by dementia is the ability to manage finances. The HSBC UK, a dementia-friendly bank, has released a ‘Managing your money with dementia’ guide to make it easier for customers living with the disease to look after their financial affairs.

Other practical support and services businesses can provide to be dementia-friendly also includes making their physical environments conducive for people with dementia.

Dr Chandran added: “We recently had a patient where he would sit in the bus and he will go ‘till the last stop of the bus. And then he doesn’t know where to go. In groceries, when an elderly person with a trolley filled with the same items walks through and has difficulty managing his/her cash, there is a problem there.

And a person with dementia going to the bank may have difficulty using his/her card, writing the cheque, and understanding the value of money. Once the Dementia Friends programme is launched, we’ll be working with each of these sectors, including the airport and other corporates which also have to be dementia-friendly, with specialised training to help the staffs respond well to people with dementia or affected by dementia, and how they can relate to them in a dementia-friendly way”.

Dr Chandran is part of the team being led by Dr Hanadi Al Hamad, Deputy Medical Director of Rumaillah Hospital and National Lead for ‘Healthy Aging’ for the National Health Strategy 2018-2022 priority population, which is also behind the creation of the Qatar National Dementia Plan, which has been launched last year.

Source from: The Peninsula