Continued Efforts to Develop Geriatric Care Services and Alzheimer’s Awareness in Qatar
Dr. Hanadi Al Hamad: National Helpline set up to Provide Support and Advice for Patients Living with Alzheimer’s and their Families
2019 World Alzheimer’s Report Says 80% of General Public Concerned about Developing Dementia
World Alzheimer’s Report Indicates 1 in 4 People think Dementia Not Preventable
Doha, 19 September, 2020: Every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia, which is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide around 50 million people have dementia, with nearly 10 million new cases emerging every year.
Last year, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) conducted one of the largest-ever global studies on attitudes about dementia as a part of ongoing efforts to help reduce stigma and increase awareness about Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia. Nearly 70,000 people, across 155 countries, including Qatar, completed the survey. The findings were published in the World Alzheimer Report 2019: Attitudes to Dementia. Some of the most notable findings included that almost 80% of the general public are concerned about developing dementia at some point in their life and that one in four people think there is nothing they can do to prevent dementia.
The report also revealed that 35% of carers across the world said that they have hidden a family member’s dementia diagnosis. Over 50% of carers globally say their health has suffered as a result of their caregiver responsibilities, even whilst expressing positive sentiments about their role. Additionally, almost 62% of healthcare providers worldwide think that dementia is part of normal ageing and about 40% of the general public believe doctors and nurses ignore people with dementia.
ADI research has shown that globally two out of every three people believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their country. The impact of World Alzheimer's Month is growing, but the stigmatization and misinformation that surrounds dementia remain a global challenge.
Dr. Hanadi Al Hamad, Qatar’s National Health Strategy lead for Healthy Ageing and Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, has been a key driving force in the development of geriatric care services and Alzheimer’s awareness in Qatar. Dr. Al Hamad is also the WHO representative for Elderly People Care for the State of Qatar, the Global Dementia Observatory (GDO) focal point, and an executive member of the European Association of Medicine of Ageing.
“While awareness of dementia is increasing around the world, especially in higher-income countries, understanding of Alzheimer’s remains low. This has frequently led to a negative impact on patients living with Alzheimer’s, their families, and communities,” said Dr. Al Hamad.
“Elderly people with Alzheimer’s often have multiple medical comorbidities, meaning they have one or more additional diseases or disorders that need medical care. However, Alzheimer’s symptoms can often make it more difficult to provide even simple care. Often families delay seeking medical support for a family member with Alzheimer’s, or delay getting a diagnosis, due to stigma. However, while there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, an early diagnosis can help people and their families to be better prepared and better cope with the progression of the illness. It can also help them manage other health problems more effectively,” added Dr. Al Hamad.
“Carers, often family members, can be overwhelmed with the challenges of caring for a relative in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s dementia. They often feel ashamed or conflicted about asking for help or advice because they feel they are obligated to provide care to their parent or other elderly relative. We have set up a national helpline to provide confidential information and advice for patients living with Alzheimer’s and their families. The RAHA Alzheimer’s and Memory Services Helpline is available on 4026 2222 between 8am and 3pm, from Sunday to Thursday,” said Dr. Al Hamad.
Throughout September, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is supporting World Alzheimer's Month with a series of public awareness events that underpin the global campaign theme of “Let’s Talk About Dementia”. Due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting public gatherings, this year’s campaign features an educational webinar for university students and faculty.
Around the world, Alzheimer's disease awareness is represented by the color purple; in solidarity with all people living with this disease, on 21 September key landmark buildings in Doha and near the Doha Cornish will be lit up in purple.