Writer: Lorna Smithen-Bussue
CHARLESTOWN (JUNE 23, 2016) Consultant Psychiatrist for Alexandra Hospital Dr. Izben Williams said “Doctors or Psychiatrists have to be careful in making diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease as there are things that could mimic Alzheimer’s, causing behaviours to change. Thus it is always good to go to a doctor before the obeah man.”
This statement was made during an Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers’ workshop hosted by the Mental Health Unit at the Alexandra Hospital Conference Room on June 21, 2016.
Community Mental Health Nurse Manager and Deputy President of the Nevis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s group, Ms. Meredith Amory Fields said one of the objectives of the workshop was to develop public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.
Meanwhile Dr. Williams implored participants of the workshop to be observant of those around them, to be able to identify any changes, whether physical, mental or emotional, in the early stages. He feels that an early response will not only greatly increase the chances of helping the client but will also lead to early diagnosis and treatment.
“Any of these little things that you see happening to any loved ones, talk to the doctor, don’t go to the obeah man. It does not solve those things” he said
According to Dr. Williams aging is not selective thus natural changes will occur in the brain as persons get older. This will result in them taking more time to do those things of which they are accustomed. He further said Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by Dementia and memory loss
“There is no normal amount of memory that one can expect to lose but as you get older. You lose some in some way” he said.
Other factors which contribute to memory loss are continued pain, for instance, arthritis, stress and emotional trauma. Dr. Williams’ concern is that persons do not seek medical attention from the onset but rather when the situation is at a dysfunctional stage.
“What is not normal is when your memory begins to interfere with your normal daily routine living. There are all these signs there “early o clock” and that’s when you have to begin to pay attention” he said.
In his opinion medicine cannot cure the normal process of physical aging of the brain but memory training can help. Dr. Williams further indicated that some of these memory training methods are routinely done with patients.
Also present at the Alzheimer’s and Dementia caregivers’ workshop were President of St. Kitts-Nevis Alzheimer’s Association of St. Kitts Chapter, Dr. Joan Rawlins, Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator, Carol Brazier, Nurse at the Alexandra Hospital, Heather David, President of the Nevis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s group and Chairperson of the workshop, Ms. Delicia Julius