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Friday January 16, 2009

A home for those with Alzheimer disease in Petaling Jaya

THE Alzheimer’s Disease Foun­dation Malaysia is reaching out further to those affected by the common dementia disease with the opening of its new headquarters in Petaling Jaya recently.

The 1,115sq m house will be another care centre for the patients and their family members in addition to the existing centre in Taman Seputeh.

Fresh beginnings: (Second from right) Wendy and Ong (right) unveiling the acknowledgement plaque to mark the opening of the foundation’s new headquarters, Yim (second from left) and board of trustee president Datuk Jeffrey Ng (left) look on.

The foundation’s patron, Datin Seri Wendy Ong, and husband, former Housing and Local Government Minis­ter Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, officiated at the launch last Saturday.

The centre is the fruit of labour of a fund-raising programme spearheaded by Wendy.

“Moving into Rumah Alzheimer’s not only marks the success of the foundation after 12 years of service to the people with Alzheimer’s in this country, it also ushers in new hope and determination to reach out to more,” she said.

She said she became involved in the foundation’s activities more than three years ago when she attended a fund-raising concert it organised.

“During the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to be involved in various charity activities, including raising funds to assist single mothers, orphanages, the sick, disabled and the aged.

“It was during the preparation of the concert that I learned more about Alzheimer’s and realised how little, many of us known about the disease, and how important early detection can slow down its progress,” she said.

The home served three main purposes — a day care centre, a venue for workshops and public talks conducted by medical professionals and the foundation’s office.

It will also be the hub where people come together to focus on raising awareness and highlighting the reality of life with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive, degenerative brain disease with the potential to impair a person’s memory, thinking, behaviour and functional activity.

The home is a far cry from its beginnings when members of the foundation’s secretariat staff had to work in a container on the old premises.

“The day care centre here can accommodate more patients in a more conductive and safe environment,” she said, adding that beds, exercise equipment and sensory garden are among others to facilitate treatment.

Also present at the launch were the foundation’s executive committee chairman, Datuk Dr Yim Khai Kee, board of trustee president Datuk Jeffrey Ng, trustee member Toh Puan Dr Aishah Ong and several Bakti members, including Datin Seri Chooi Yoke Chun, wife of MCA president and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, and Datin Lee Sun Loo, wife of Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai.

Dr Yim said the disease was the most common form of dementia affecting those over the age of 65. It affects more than 24 million people worldwide and about half a million Malaysians.

“There is one case of dementia every seven seconds, “ he added.

He said the foundation had started support groups in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur and Johor, adding that an outreach programme to assist those in smaller towns would start soon in Ipoh.

He added that the foundation had succeeded in its bid for the 13th Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International, which would be held in Kuala Lumpur from Oct 22 to 24, 2010.

The new centre is located at No: 6, Lorong 11/8E, Section 11, Petaling Jaya. It can be reached at 03-7956 2008.

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