Dementia in the Caribbean: No time to lose

The 4th Regional non-Latin Caribbean Conference on Alzheimer’s and Dementia was hosted by the Alzheimer's Association of Trinidad and Tobago and ADI in Port of Spain.

The two-day conference, ‘Dementia in the Caribbean: No Time to Lose’, covered a range of topics, including: recent developments in dementia policy at the global level, regionalisation of Alzheimer associations in the non-Latin Caribbean, and challenges and opportunities in dementia care. Attendees also heard a first-hand account of what it is like to live with dementia from the perspective of a care partner.

Dale Goldhawk, Board member of ADI, said: “Alzheimer’s disease killed my father and led to the death of my mother, his primary 24-hour-a-day caregiver. Looking after them both was a labour of love, mixed with the emotional challenges of facing a disease that still has no effective treatment, let alone cure.”

The conference was attended by the Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, and the President of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, who offered his support to the Alzheimer’s Association of Trinidad and Tobago. They promised to start collaborating with the association to work on a national dementia plan.

The President and Minister, as well as the participating researchers, all endorsed the steps towards a closer collaboration of the Alzheimer associations in the region, acknowledging that by working together, they could achieve a much greater impact than individual countries. It was important that this also included the support of governments and academia.

An Alzheimer University workshop for ADI member associations took place ahead of the conference, with a focus on strengthening Alzheimer associations and increasing collaboration across the regional network. Also covered at the workshop was the response to the adoption of a global action plan on dementia by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2017 and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Regional Dementia Action Plan adopted in 2015.

Anastasia Psoma, ADI Fundraising and Membership Manager, said: “At ADI, we are really proud to see Alzheimer associations in the non-Latin Caribbean grow fast despite their small size and scarce resources. Attending the meeting was really helpful in understanding the challenges in the region but also enabled us to provide existing and emerging Alzheimer Associations with some practical tools in their efforts to raise awareness and become a strong leading network of Alzheimer organizations in the Caribbean.”