Insightful evening at Whelehans Alzheimer’s Information Event
Thursday 27th April proved to be a great night for nearly 50 people who attended the “Alzheimer’s Information evening” hosted by Whelehans Pharmacy in The Greville Arms hotel.
The audience comprised a wide mix of people, ranging from carers living with Dementia including Alzheimer’s and people working with dementia in a care environment to people who just wanted to find out more about Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Sobering statistics on Dementia
There were three speakers set up to present to the group on Alzheimer’s related subjects. First up was Donal Murphy, Operations Manager from Alzheimer’s Society Ireland (ASI). Donal started out with an overview of the prevalence of the disease in Ireland. Currently 55,000 people living with Dementia in Ireland (904 in Westmeath). With a growing “aged” population, these figures are forecast to double in 20 years and treble in 35 years, so upwards of 165,000. Donal highlighted the ripple aspect Dementia has with families and carers, bringing the figure of those affected to around 500,000, with the cost of Dementia estimated at €1.6 billion per year; extremely sobering facts.
Donal continued with an overview of the various services offered throughout the country by Alzheimer’s Society Ireland from the extensive range of printed and web information available and the ASI National Helpline (1800 341 341), to Day Care and county based Dementia advisers featuring amongst a wider range of services.
Moving on to Westmeath, Donal explained the paucity of services provided by the Society in Westmeath. This has been the case for some years now, however, the good news is that our county has now become a priority at both ASI and, as part of the National Dementia Strategy, the Government too. Donal further highlighted the various activities needed to get the ball rolling.
Pharmacist Eamonn Brady from Whelehans Pharmacy delivered a brief presentation which looked firstly at risk factors associated with Dementia. Eamonn then gave an excellent overview of “Coping with Dementia” offering many tips and strategies aimed at helping people living and working with dementia to deal with Memory Loss, Memory aids, Sharing and talking. Eamonn concluded his presentation by giving the audience a detailed insight into the four primary drugs currently approved for use in the treatment of Dementia and a look at the future and the race to find a cure for what is currently, an incurable condition.
The psychiatrist perspective?
The main speaker for the evening Dr Michael O’Cuill (Consultant in Psychiatry of Old Age) gave an insightful talk on the disease. The first part of Dr O’Cuill’s session offered a more detailed look at the various prevalence and statistical information that had been presented earlier. The gender imbalance is roughly 2 to 1 female to male in later life, this disparity was mainly attributed to the fact that women live longer and in fact, at the early stages, gender balance is fairly even. Dr O’Cuill continued with a clinician’s review of the risk factors mentioned by Eamonn earlier, followed by a detailed discussion of protective and preventative factors that have been shown to prevent or at least help minimise the development of the disease. Unsurprisingly, many of these factors are similar to those recommended for the prevention of others major conditions such as heart attack and stroke. As you might expect, smoking, exercise, diet, blood pressure monitoring featured highly here. He discussed the long terms benefits of early diagnosis which led then to a thorough overview of medications used and their efficacy. Dr O’Cuill concluded his presentation with a thorough up to date review of the wide range of Mullingar local service resource and support availability, which considering the earlier lack of ASI services highlighted, end his presentation on a positive note. Following the speakers was a lively and engaging Q & A session.
Whelehans Pharmacy would like to take this opportunity to thank all those attended the event. If you missed the night, you can call into Whelehans Pharmacy for comprehensive leaflets on Alzheimer’s and Dementia for free.