#Star50: How the Alzheimer's Disease Foundation of Malaysia helps people living with the disease


According to ADFM, there are over 261,000 people with dementia in Malaysia. Photo: 123rf.com

Since it was set up over 20 years ago, the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation of Malaysia (ADFM) has been continuously creating awareness of the neuro-degenerative disease and helping people cope with it.

Last September, ADFM reached a milestone when it set up its Resource and Learning Centre at Section 1, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

The centre is equipped with a library, cafe and meeting rooms where volunteers conduct training sessions on dementia care skills to caregivers.

These sessions are essential because they equip caregivers with coping strategies and care skills when looking after people with Alzheimer’s disease. Proper knowledge and training can improve the quality of life of a loved one living with the disease.

Prior to the pandemic, mind-stimulating activities were held for senior citizens with Alzheimer's disease at the centre. Photos: ADFMPrior to the pandemic, mind-stimulating activities were held for senior citizens with Alzheimer's disease at the centre. Photos: ADFM

During the pandemic, the centre is closed but ADFM project director C. S. Gan and his team continue to hold online talks for caregivers and people living with Alzheimer’s.

“During the various movement control orders, we carried out awareness talks and virtual interactive programmes for people with dementia to keep them engaged.

“Last November, we conducted a virtual training session on dementia care skills for 15 trainers. This new batch of trainers comprises doctors and nurses, ” he said.

The refurbishment of the bungalow where the centre is located was made possible with donations from various individuals and corporate bodies. One of the biggest contributors was Star Foundation, which has donated over half a million ringgit to ADFM since 2007.

The Resource and Learning Centre provides training to equip caregivers with coping strategies when looking after people with Alzheimer's disease.The Resource and Learning Centre provides training to equip caregivers with coping strategies when looking after people with Alzheimer's disease.

Gan said Star Foundation’s assistance has helped ADFM achieve many of its objectives. They include setting up the Atria-ADFM Community Corner at Atria Shopping Gallery in Petaling Jaya, and conducting outreach programmes and training courses on dementia care.

“With the extra funds, we have conducted many activities, including public awareness programmes on brain health and early detection of dementia, organised World Alzheimer’s Month in September each year, and held international conferences on dementia, ” said Gan.

He added that Star Foundation has also been working closely with ADFM.

“The foundation has often reviewed our set-up, books and management to independently evaluate the transparency and utilisation of funds in carrying out ADFM’s activities.

“With the support of Star Foundation, ADFM has been able to focus on our objectives and vigorously carry out activities to serve our community.”

The Atria-ADFM Community Corner is a place where people can learn more about dementia and how to care for people with dementia. Photo: FilepicThe Atria-ADFM Community Corner is a place where people can learn more about dementia and how to care for people with dementia. Photo: Filepic

Playing a vital role

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes impaired functionality and memory loss. It is the most common cause of dementia, a continuous decline in thinking, behavioural and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently.

ADFM was established in 1997 to help persons with dementia and caregivers’ families. Over the years, the non-profit organisation has provided training to over 500 families on ways to care for persons with dementia.

ADFM has also helped many volunteers, academicians and healthcare professionals pursue more knowledge on dementia and care skills.

Most people develop Alzheimer’s disease after the age of 65. According to ADFM, there are over 261,000 people with dementia in Malaysia.

Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes impaired functionality and memory loss. Photo: 123rf.comAlzheimer's is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes impaired functionality and memory loss. Photo: 123rf.com

Worldwide, there are about 50 million people who have dementia, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year, the World Health Organization states.

Gan said The Star has helped create more awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.

“The media have a very important role in promoting greater awareness and reducing stigma on the disease. The Star has been covering news of ADFM’s activities since 2006. We are deeply appreciative of its support in highlighting issues of people living with the disease. The articles have benefitted caregivers’ families, allied health professionals and government agencies.

“ADFM would like to express our sincere appreciation to Star Foundation and The Star for continuously supporting ADFM in our effort to provide help to Malaysians with dementia. We wish The Star a wonderful journey ahead and a great 50th anniversary celebration, ” said Gan.

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