According to a study by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Chile plans to increase its older adult population from 9.5% in 1992 to 18.1% in 2022.
This increase in the adult population brings with it an increase in patients with diseases specific to the elderly such as neurodegenerative diseases. However, the main problem, according to Tomás León Rodríguez, a psychiatrist at the Center for Memory and Neuropsychiatry of the University of Chile and the Hospital del Salvador, is that there has not been an increase in medical specialists for this segment of the population.
Due to this, the University of Chile will conduct a free online course on dementia, aimed specifically at medical and non-medical professionals in primary care and private institutions who work with people with dementia and their caregivers.
The psychiatrist explained that “older people have a higher number of physical illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, but also mental health illnesses, including a higher prevalence of depressive and anxious symptoms and conditions we call neurodegenerative or dementia.” that affect memory,” their ability to orient themselves, make decisions, and these, to the extent that they should be taken care of by a health system and a family system, often generate overload due to ignorance of these systems. Are”.
Importance of Caregivers in Patients with Dementia
Andrea Slachevsky, academician of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Neurosciences and Neurological Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Chile, assures that “diagnosis, both for the person and their environment, is something that has to be faced for years and in The person, the immediate environment, usually a main caregiver, and other people who are close are also involved”.
“In caring for people with dementia, the caregiver is essential. He or she must understand what is happening, understand the disease, know how to respond to symptoms and avoid things that may worsen symptoms. Can increase
Care, neurologists say, “varies depending on the individual’s abilities. It must be recognized that it must be focused on the person’s history, on their needs, at the critical moment in their life, and must take into account all of these elements.” In general, one mistake one makes is thinking that only the caregiver can take care of the person, but it is very important that they learn or understand the importance of asking for help”.
How to identify dementia patient
Andrea Slachevsky explained that the diagnosis of a person with dementia depends on “starting to show cognitive impairments, which are usually associated with behavioral changes and which lead to a functional disorder, starting with difficulty performing daily activities.” it occurs”.
In the same sense, psychiatrist Tomas Leon explained that “it is not just forgetfulness, but it is the frequency, the intensity, the type of forgetfulness and the effect of this forgetfulness on my ability to perform activities of daily living, which is what we call functionality”. .
“In terms of frequency, they are forgetfulness that is happening more frequently, several times a week; As far as intensity is concerned, forgetfulness is what creates an effect in my day to day that I do not recover quickly, it is not that I forget a name and I remember it quickly, it is an effect causes that I break off this conversation are the kind of what we call amnesia, that doesn’t improve with cues or they give me clues, and that progressively affects our ability or functionality in daily life is”, Tomas Leon pointed out.
On June 1st begins a free online course on dementia taught by the Hospital Salvador, the Department of Primary Care and Family Health of the University of Chile and the Center for Memory and Neuropsychiatry of the Ministry of Health and aimed at professionals who work with people with disabilities We do. Dementia and their carers.
Registration for the course is digital and one of its managers, psychiatrist Tomas Leon, indicated that the tools will be distributed to train health professionals who, due to the increase in patients, are unable to provide their care and advice without specific knowledge of the case. are facing. Those who take care of them.
Among the tools, says Leone, is learning, for example, “not resisting them, not focusing on failures (‘but how could he do that, how could he forget’) and getting to the point where he’s not an infant and do everything and don’t overdo it.”