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Lest we forget

A recent workshop organized by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Thailand showed older people how they can keep their brains active and have fun at the same time

Parinyaporn Pajee

Special to Thailandtoday.co

In an attempt to educate the public, especially the over 60s, on protecting themselves from dementia, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Thailand held its annual workshop activity “Creating a Thai society to stay far away from Alzheimer’s” last Sunday (February 23) at the Crystal Ballroom of the Tawanna Hotel on Bangkok’s Surawong Road. Organized in collaboration with the Center of Excellence in Life Sciences (public organization), the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, the event drew more than 250 people between the ages of 60 and 70 who had not previously participated in the activity to learn what they can do prevent and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s from professionals and experienced instructors.

Dr Narase Damrongchai, CEO of TCELS, spoke about the “Memo Gaming” Application launched last year to help brain training through memory. “This year we are delighted to present the new application ‘Calcool Gaming’ that provides brain training games to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The Calcool Gaming now can be downloaded free via the Play Store for Android users and the App Store on iOS,” he said.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of Thailand held its annual workshop activity “Creating a Thai society to stay far away from Alzheimer’s” at Tawana Hotel last Sunday.

In the future, the TCELS will add more knowledge and adopt holistic medical technology to develop services for the elderly. These include the development of a tracking device prototype or anti-lost tracker, which is much needed by Alzheimer’s sufferers, as while they may be lucid when they first go out, they are likely to later become confused and might not remember their way back home. The device will also track patients’ activities, which will assist in medical care. In another first, the TCELS has initiated the Medicopolis programme which will also carry out research into innovations that can enable the elderly to have a better quality of life.

Dr Narase Damrongchai

President of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Thailand Dr Yuth Potharamic noted that the workshop was not only for seniors vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, but also caregivers for family members suffering from the debilitating illness.

“Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is onerous and stressful as they have to cope with the patient’s emotional changes. It is therefore imperative that we take care not only of the patients, but also the caregivers as well,” said the president.

“A major concern in Thai society is that we do not know who has Alzheimer’s even though we can see signs of the disease.  Many people refuse to accept that they have Alzheimer’s symptoms and so many times that even their family members also refuse to accept it. Perhaps they feel embarrassed to admit it,” said Dr Yuth.

Dr Yuth Potharamic

Now 82, the doctor shared his tips for living a healthy and happy life. “After retirement, I discovered the three key factors that make my life happy and they can work for everyone. The first is socialising with younger friends because they help update the five human senses which are sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. They also help us to learn lots of new things on the social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Line.

“The second thing is trying to go outside as much as possible and find activities to enjoy outside such as exercise, hanging out with your friends or even go shopping at the mall.

“The last thing is trying to get a job that suitable for you and that you enjoy. Working makes us feel valuable.”

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. Prof Dr Nuntika Thavichachart, vice president and secretary of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Thailand, noted that scientists don’t yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease in most people. It can be genetic, related to lifestyle factors, and the result of diabetes, hypertension, lipid levels as well as psychological illness such as depression.

After the talks, participants joined different workshops designed for the “Elderly School” project. Divided into five classes, they enjoyed learning how to exercise their brains through games and activity at a science class as well as how to keep fit in a Physical Education class.

The other three classes covered technology and how to use digital devices, applications to take pictures and retouch images in smartphones to keep up with social changes and roles of the elderly, a home economics room where they learned how to prepare dishes with the proper nutrition for their age, and a music therapy class that helps older persons to relax to age-appropriate music. Studies have shown that music can enrich the lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease and the foundation earlier worked with advertising company Dentsu One (Bangkok)  to create “MEMO_o_ke”, which offers karaoke songs with some parts of the lyrics missing to help stimulate the memory and help slow down Alzheimer’s. The songs are also available online at the MEMO_o_ke Youtube Channel.

Founded in 2008, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Thailand holds the activity in Bangkok and in some provinces every year. For more information, visit www.alz.or.th or www.facebook.com/ ALZ Thailand.

Cognitive Training Cards for older people to play and exercise their brains.
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