Alzheimer’s Disease is in Kenya … By Elizabeth Mutunga

As I create  awareness, I meet with lots of people and they tell me lots of things.  The other day I met with someone who asked what I was doing and I mentioned I am creating awareness about a disease called Alzheimer’s.  She looks at me and tells me ‘ my dear that disease is not in Kenya… that is a disease for the Western world’ .  Her sentiments were valid…  The first time I was told my father has Alzheimer’s disease I thought the same too.  The other day was in a church creating awareness and the same sentiments were repeated.

I need to inform my fellow Kenyans the disease is in Kenya.  Most of us do not understand what we are dealing with and truth be told by the time we seek help we have been frustrated, angry and at the point of despair.  The difference between us and the Western world is that there is a lot of awareness on the disease and when someone notices there is something wrong with their memory they will seek help immediately.  This is one of the reasons that makes me wake up each morning and go about talking to people and creating awareness.  Once there is awareness , there will be less stigma and we will have a community that is friendly to Alzheimer’s and Dementia in Kenya .

Every day I meet families that have been affected by the disease and when you invite them for the support group and they realise they are not alone..  this knowledge gives them hope to move on.. I long for the day these families will get help from the Government as the people who are usually affected are usually the bread winners of the family and thus the family does not have a source of income.  As they are still grappling with this devastating disease the primary caregiver will be a family member and thus there is no one able to go out and fend for the family thus most of them go through a financial crisis.

Lets keep talking create awareness, reduce stigma and to have a friendly dementia community…

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