The month of September is internationally recognized as “World Alzheimer’s Month”, a period designated to raise awareness and break the stigmas surrounding Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

This year’s observation is under the theme “Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s”, the same as last year but with a special focus on post-diagnosis support this time around.

Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Marlon Penn marked the commencement of September with a message to the public explaining the relevance of this observation to the BVI, particularly given the territory’s ageing population.

“Over the years the territory has seen an increase in the number of persons diagnosed and undiagnosed who are struggling with the emotional, physical and mental impacts of dementia, along with their families and caregivers. This has huge implications for our health and social care systems and impacts every sector of our society”, Penn said.

Familiarise yourself with the symptoms

Penn urged Virgin Islanders to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of dementia and alzheimer’s so that they can better prepare themselves to be supportive and compassionate to members of the society who are directly affected by these conditions.

“Persons experiencing Dementia have difficulty remembering, become disoriented, wander away or get lost, or they may struggle to manage their finances – as a result, a number of them have been taken advantage of. They are our grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, neighbours and co-workers… They need our support”, he remarked.

To this end, Penn lauded the efforts of the Virgin Island’s Alzheimer’s association for its passion in raising awareness of the condition in the territory.

Noting what action is taking place on the international stage, Penn spoke to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of dementia as a global health crisis.

Since then the agency has launched a plan of action, containing strategies to decrease the impact of dementia on individuals, families and countries.

These strategies are across 7 main areas:

Dementia as a public health priority
Dementia awareness and friendliness
Dementia risk reduction
Dementia diagnosis, treatment, care and support
Support for Dementia carers
Information systems for Dementia
Dementia research and innovation

Penn noted that on the ground in the territory, the Ministry of Health will be working in line with this action plan.