Demystifying the notion that surrounds dementia – it starts with awareness
Founder of Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia (ADN), Berrie Holtzhausen has made it his mission in life to educate and spread awareness about the dreaded disease, dementia.
According to Berrie, dementia is a permanent, progressive and terminal disease, which is caused by approximately 90 other diseases, including Alzheimers. The disease, which mostly affects the elderly from the ages of 65 upwards, is known to have different symptoms but mostly associated to the loss of memory and even hallucinations
In his quest he seeks to erase the discrimination and stigma that is faced by people with dementia or symptoms of dementia in the country.
Currently Berrie offers training to nurses who strive for specialization in this area at his Care Center located in Swakopmund.
In an interview with the Economist, Berrie states that there are many misconceptions about the disease and it his calling to inform the nation with the assistance from the government because with out the governments support his work will not reach all corners of the country.
Berrie said dementia does not just affect the older generation only, “it starts when an individual is young but the symptoms only show or occur when that individual is older,” he added.
“It is therefore important for young adults to take care of themselves, eat the right food, exercise to make sure that the risk of getting dementia is reduced,” he further explained.
According to Berrie, the disease in the country is surrounded by the notion especially among the previously disadvantaged people who perceive those affected by dementia, as an act of witchcraft, which he highly dismissed.
“This stigmatization has to stop because people are getting ostracized or even killed because of this,” he added.
According to him, it is possible to live well with dementia, even though it is a terminal illness for which there is no cure or modifying medication.
“Poor and inhuman treatment of people suffering from dementia should be prevented and awareness and education around a common disease will result in proper care for families,” he said.
Meanwhile, this year, ADN will among other things, focus on the Human rights of People living with dementia something that is extremely serious for the organisation.