In conjunction with World’s Alzheimer’s Day, IMU Psychology Club organized a community project titled Days With Alzheimer’s Patients. This community project was successfully conducted on 25th and 26th of September 2018 at the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM) followed by a sharing session held on the 29th of September 2018 at the Senate Room of International Medical University, Bukit Jalil.
In line with the event slogan ‘Alzheimer’s Matters’, event organizer Nur Afifah and co-organizer Muhd Ilyas conducted the Days With Alzheimer’s Patients community project with the sole aim to heighten awareness on the severity of Alzheimer’s disease in Malaysia. This project sought to provide first hand experience for volunteers in caring for Alzheimer’s patients and to increase awareness and exposure on the effects of Alzheimer’s in the lives of both patient and caregiver.
Days with Alzheimer’s Patients Community Project, ADFM.
In an attempt to provide volunteers maiden experience on Alzheimer’s patients and on methods on how to care for these patients, a two day visit was conducted to the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM) Day Care Centre. The event underwent with great success, with a maximum participation of 10 volunteers and the assistance of Madam Pauline Khoo, the nurse manager of the ADFM center. On the first day, after reaching the daycare, a briefing session took place of which Madam Pauline assigned tasks to the volunteers where said tasks mainly involved participants to assist the nurses with their care of the patients as well as to observe how these nurses handled the caring of all these patients.
During the second day, the briefing of the tasks were conducted with the assignment of tasks. Afterwards, the volunteers had the opportunity to perform activities such as making sandwiches as well as creating some arts and crafts. At the end of the day, the volunteers were given certificates as a token of appreciation for their time and contribution. We hope that this hands-on session on the knowledge for Alzheimer’s patients’ care giving would become annual event to continue promote awareness of this neurodegenerative disease, and we hope to actively share new information accumulated from this experience through various platforms like the ADFM-IMU blog and our social media pages.
Get to Know Alzheimer’s Talk – Sharing Session at IMU
Around 60 participants attended the Get to Know Alzheimer’s talk held on the 29th of September. The sharing session was officiated by Dr Zahra Fazli Khalaf with a welcoming message and an introduction about the ADFM-IMU Blog, launched as a joint collaboration between IMU Cares and ADFM back in September 2017. This initiative is a blog run with the contributions from IMU students from different healthcare fields that share a common goal towards contributing to the increase of Alzheimer’s awareness within the community and provide support and encouragement to patients and caregivers. “This blog is also built to foster passion and insight among IMU students to reach out and gain first-hand experience in providing support for Alzheimer’s patients and in spreading awareness through blogging and volunteerism”, said Dr Zahra. The talk was conducted by Miss Satiapoorani, a senior trainer, Dr. Colin Chong, and Miss Moonglan, caregivers and volunteers for ADFM.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is one of the most common type of neurocognitive disorders in which the degeneration of the cognitive, and eventually bodily, functions are not just devastating, but deadly as well. Despite the severity of this particular condition, most people, Malaysians included, simply assume it to be a part of the normal aging process. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressively degenerative disease that affects multiple functions of the brain, resulting in impaired memory and cognitive function, thinking and personality change. It can be severe enough to impair performance of necessary daily activities and work.
Risk factor and signs
Miss Satiapoorani, senior trainer at ADFM, began her talk by addressing misconceptions about Alzheimer’s that are commonly upheld within the society. She explained that many elderlies with Alzheimer’s face age discrimination, whereby, they are disdained because of their inability to remember things and carry out simple cognitive tasks. “Alzheimer’s disease is a problem of the brain, not the person suffering from it. The patient is a captive to his or her own debilitated brain” said Miss Satiapoorani. Furthermore, she also discussed various signs and risk factors such as the correlation between the unhealthy lifestyle and diet practices in Malaysia as a risk factor towards developing Alzheimer’s. As the brain is supplied nutrients through the body’s blood vessels, one could say that the food taken in that affects the heart could in return affect the brain with the heart being responsible in pumping blood through these blood vessels to the brain. She also mentioned how the diseases related to both the heart and head also seem to have a heightened risk for an individual in developing Alzheimer’s disease. These diseases include hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol as well as the unhealthy habit of smoking.
A caregiver sharing session was conducted by Dr Colin and Miss Moonglan, caregivers and volunteers at ADFM. Dr Colin Chong shared his story as a caregiver of his wife. He has been caring for his wife of 40 years, Joyce Liew since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. “Alzheimer’s disease is an agony. My wife is physically present but I know that her mind is distant and fading away” added Dr Colin. This part of the talk also included real stories and cases of Alzheimer’s patients and the struggles they face in coping with daily tasks and simple responsibilities. Miss Moonglan shared the story of her husband who is also an Alzheimer’s patient. “Many times he has wandered off absentmindedly in public places, and I am truly grateful for the good samaritans who were patient and kind enough to help him contact his family and find his way back home safely” said Miss Moonglan. She emphasized on how important it is for members of society to practice empathy and patience when dealing with Alzheimer’s patients in distress or in need of assistance. “After all, they are most likely lost in thoughts of disarray, isolated from immediate present happenings” she added.
Finally, the 2-and-a-half-hour talk ended with a very engaging Q and A session. Participants asked many important questions and benefited greatly as the speakers addressed each one. It was evident that this event moved people to change their perspective and question many grey areas surrounding this topic.
Days with Alzheimer’s Patients was an event enriched with knowledge, curiosity and learning. People were touched by the struggles that Alzheimer’s patients endure throughout their battle and it most assuredly caused an impact among all who attended this meaningful event. It was indeed a privilege and an honour for IMU Psychology Club to work together with ADFM on such an impactful event as we aspire to further strengthen our relationship in the hopes of raising awareness within the society about Alzheimer’s disease.
Juanita Magen & Sharwin M Yugaseelan
Public Relation Representatives, IMU Psychology Club