Thursday, February 29

Afam covers all available places in its Alzheimer’s therapeutic center

Antonia Blanco together with other relatives of Alzheimer’s patients from Mérida. / JMR

The family association insists that there are few resources and that many patients hardly leave home

Afam, the association of relatives of Alzheimer’s patients in Mérida, draws the map of the impact of this disease and other similar dementias in the region of Mérida. The latest available data estimates that there are a thousand people affected between patients and caregivers for whom the disease barely gives them a break.

There are also more women than men and a downward trend can be seen in the average age of those newly diagnosed.

María Jesús García González is a psychologist and director of the Afam therapeutic center.

The problem, he says, is that very few turn to public or private resources. Most experience the problem at home. Without a follow-up of the disease and without sessions to stop the deterioration. That’s why they opened the center last year. Since 2007 they had been claiming a space that would serve to offer continuous specialized support to the patient and family members. He appreciates the support of the Board and the City Council, which gave them the premises in the Bellavista area. On the ground floor of a gallery between the Instituto Extremadura and the Colegio Calatrava. The City Council also helped them equip it. “Not only have we had public support, there have also been companies and individuals who have been involved with us.”

The twenty places enabled have already been covered. The director insists that they work from a therapeutic perspective, they do not follow the day center model. It is a specific work of cognitive stimulation, physiotherapy and almost personalized occupational therapy. They work from ten in the morning to six in the evening. Some users go four hours in the morning and others all day. There are also no places for home delivery that they opened to reach more people. The problem is that there are not much more resources in the city. Family members can also go to the El Prado residence or to the Parkinson’s association, but it is not specific for Alzheimer’s.

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Afam is also part of the national platform of relatives that has started a campaign weeks ago to demand more investigation. If there is an early detection, compares the director, it is possible to work from the beginning and the deterioration of the disease can be stopped before. “Many times, in the first symptoms, it is confused with other dementias.”

Actually, account, little is known yet. We know how the deterioration of the brain evolves, but not the trigger.

The families of Mérida who have been living with Alzheimer’s for some time have woven a network of information and support for those newly diagnosed. Also to give them autonomy and quality of life for as long as possible. They care about caregivers. As there are not enough resources or not being able to pay for them, some are pending 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with the physical and mental wear and tear that this entails.

One of the promoters of the therapeutic center was Antonia Blanco. The president of Afam in 2007. The association then offered some sessions at the Reyes Huertas center, but all the relatives agreed that they were insufficient. That is why they then began to promote their own.

This first year of operation has shown that it was necessary because all the places have been filled and there is a waiting list to receive the sessions they provide to patients.

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