Hope in the Age of Dementia

ADI and ITN Productions are happy to announce a new release for 2020: ‘Hope in the Age of Dementia’

( Courtesy of )

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and ITN Productions have co-produced a news and current affairs-style programme ‘Hope in the Age of Dementia’, exploring the latest ground-breaking global developments around dementia.

‘Hope in the Age of Dementia’ focuses on the latest advances in care, research and technology, showcasing organisations which are driving change and innovation around the world. Anchored by news presenter Sharon Thomas, the programme explores topics such as: promising signs of treatment and diagnostic breakthroughs, leading research in low and middle-income countries, innovation around health and care services, and more.

The news-style film also combines key interviews and reports with sponsored editorial profiles from leading organisations, including Geras Solutions, Roche, TauRx and The Welsh Ambulance Services.

The digital launch of the documentary will be followed by a showcase of the film at the ADI Conference in December, with additional content and features.

See the list of all film participants below:

  • Geras Solutions
  • National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Roche
  • TauRx
  • The University of Auckland
  • The Welsh Ambulance Services
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia Organisation Kenya  (ADOK)
  • Alzheimer’s & Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI)
  • Federación Mexicana de Alzheimer, A. C. (FEDMA)
  • Alzheimer’s Indonesia
  • STRiDE Project

Changed by Dementia

By Elizabeth Mutunga

(As featured on

I was only 17 when we noticed the change my dad. He had been in the police service for a long time and he was outstanding at his job. He run a tight ship at home and work, and we loved the joy he brought and kept in our home. But that all changed and he wasn’t the same man anymore. However, that wasn’t the real onset of the challenges.

In 1985, he had a spell in his health and ended in a diabetic coma that significantly reduced his strength and vitality. Though he loved his work and strove to continue working, this health incident took a toll on his ability to remain at the top of his game and in time he had to retire from his life’s passion. After so many years in the force, it was a little hard to integrate back into civilian life. Imagine having a regime for over 20 years and suddenly have nothing to do every day. Our lives changed forever.

We never fully anticipate that one change can could transform a community. We all noticed changes in his behaviour but we called it the normal process of aging. You know how it is when people grow older and they do all manner of things that don’t make sense and just say they are old. He was changing, he was becoming less that we knew, he was forgetting more and more. What we didn’t know was that the changes in his behaviour were actually the early signs of dementia.

Dementia has a funny way of masquerading like or riding alongside other aliments. It is known to be shrouded by diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle disease. It mimics old age and adaptation challenges and is easy to miss for a long time. We didn’t see it in dad because of his health challenge with diabetes. As we faced more and more challenges like loss of loved ones, changes in the environment, loss of funds and property his episodes became more evident and intense and we chalked it up to challenges in dealing. Yet so much was going on that we did not know or have anything to measure the changes going on around us against.

The reality is that by the time we found a doctor who told us what was really going on it was 20 years of struggle and we had been ostracised from certain sections of our lives. We got the final diagnosis in 2007 and the years before that begun to make sense but we didn’t have much time to change much for his life because he left us two years later. Basically, he was diagnosed when he was in end stage dementia.

The difficult part about dementia is that as the patient loses portions of their memories, they settle into places in their early lives and reject anything that doesn’t fit their memories. They forget whole sectors of their lives so when one tries to explain things to them and their explanation doesn’t align with the patient’s thoughts anger and combative behaviour surface. Patients forget so much that even things like eating an hour ago is forgotten and they could accuse their caregivers of starving them. They wander off going to places they knew and loved so could easily get lost.

Everyday it broke us a little more as the watched this once eloquent, stately, strong man diminish every day. He forgot some of us, he got angry with us for not being obedient, he doubted our love and commitment to him. It broke our hearts to watch him get weaker and sadder whenever one of us moved because he could not go back to the places that used to bring him joy.

Dementia is harsh because it affects the brain directly and as the brain ceases its function, so do the rest of the body processes. There are three main stages in dementia that affect different individuals differently. The first stage is where the person forgets, repeats themselves a lot, are aggressive, could be unmotivated or hyper. The middle stage is where their safety is at risk because the tend to wander away as they look for thing that made them happy. In this stage there is still the possibility of being hyper or hypo (slow). The late stage is when they can do nothing for themselves and in a simple sense even the brain forgets to give simple instructions like breath…. This is the when the patient just dies.

It is a very difficult illness to deal with because the toll is unseen especially in the care givers. You watch the person you love become a different person, you watch them fade away and totally disappear. You experience stigma because of things the patient will say to others like you are starving them or that you beat them. You find yourself side-lined in society and especially in Africa you find the conversation about being bewitched coming up repeatedly. The realisation that there is nothing you can do to stop this illness taking its toll is heart-breaking for family and caregivers. There are interventions to slow the progress, but the reality is the end of this is known. The emotional toll of the illness makes it very lonely to be a caregiver and to find the strength to keep going.

Even on this journey, I urge you to find joy…yes find joy. There is joy in the fact that you still have time together. There is joy because the tales of the past can be so entertaining and fulfilling. The joy is in the knowledge that each one can and will grow into wonderful patient and kind people from this experience. Do not let the challenges of the season drive you mad, find a group of people who are going through or have been through this journey and will understand.

Dementia patients confined at the intersection of routine therapeutic activities and violation of Covid-19 containment measures

Dementia & Covid 19

Dementia & Covid 19

By Stephen Macharia

Today, Azibeta Likhaya, 81, does not understand why she cannot embrace, shake hands or get physically close to family members at her home in Roasterman Village, Kakamega County even as Covid-19 infections upsurge in Kenya.

She lives with comorbidities; Dementia a syndrome characterized by a decline in memory, language and ability to perform daily activities; Arthritis which is a chronic disabling condition affecting body joints, muscles plus connective tissues; and Hypertension, an illness that subjects blood vessels to persistently raised pressure.

However, Azibeta’s dementia syndrome is what worries the family as cases of Covid-19 spread across the country.

Oblivious of her susceptibility to contracting Covid-19, Azibeta, now living under stricter confinement measures her family imposed since Kenya recorded the first Covid-19 case in mid-March, currently manifests forms of aggression towards regaining lost reassuring habits: visiting neighbours; greeting people; and freedom from family surveillance.

The family is now in a rattrap when it comes to handling her situation amid rising Covid-19 infections, her son and caregiver Mr. Wyclif Likhaya, admits. “Granting her freedom to move around increases her exposure to Covid-19 but we understand excessive restrictions may end up upsetting her mental well-being.”

Worse still, she cannot wear a facemask for long before throwing it away for making her “feel uncomfortable”.

In Roasterman Village, located four kilometers from Kakamega town, residents live in palpable fear of Covid-19 infections. A section of the village serves as the town dump site where all forms of waste, including used facemasks and medical waste, litter the surface. The dumpsite is less than two kilometers from Azibeta’s home.

Mr. Likhaya, a graduate in Social Work who also serves as a volunteer caregiver for two other neighbours living with chronic illnesses, knows her mum’s condition requires “careful handling”.

Outside the home compound, the family discerns, Azibeta cannot consistently observe Covid-19 preventive measures enforced by the government, setting her up for arrest by authorities.

“Mum keeps asking why people do not show her appreciation by …..

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