On 21 September the Territory celebrated World Alzheimer’s Day in the form of a vigil held at the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Park.
The event was a collaborative undertaking of the Rotary and Lions Clubs of the BVI, and was held under the theme “Remember Me.”
Past President of the Lions Club of Tortola, Carvin Malone noted the importance of support for the patients and families. He also emphasized partnership as it relates to addressing Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia related illnesses.
Vice President of the Rotary Club of Road Town, Sonia Webster explained that the event was aimed at raising awareness by helping people understand the early signs of Alzheimer’s in order to enable early diagnosis.
She said that there is no need for persons to be afraid of, or be ashamed of the illness. “It is a disease just like cancer or any other illness,” she added. As such, Webster called on the community to assist people with the disease to live out their lives with dignity.
She further stated that the victims suffer in silence and the simple thing that people can do for them is to treat them with respect.
“We must be mindful of this disease because it exists among us,” Acting Premier, Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering said. In fact, Hon. Pickering noted that Alzheimer’s is not an individual disease, but rather an illness that affects communities all over the globe.
Director of Medical Services, Dr. June Samuel said that the painful thing about Alzheimer’s is that families have to watch their loved one die in front of them, while they are still alive: “The worst thing is when they get to the place where they no longer recognize you,” she added.
Dr. Samuel stated that many people believe that losing one’s memory is part of normal aging, and as such in her practice, she might not see an Alzheimer’s patient until five years after he/she has had the first signs.
“Here in the BVI we are very good with the early diagnosis, the support and ongoing care is where we have the gap…I look forward to hearing how we can bridge that gap.”
Jeanette Scatliffe-Boynes gave a family perspective of Alzheimer’s by sharing her family’s journey as they support a close relative that was diagnosed a few years ago.