Concha has found a second home in the day center of the Association of Relatives of Alzheimer’s Patients of Murcia (Afamur). “There is a very good atmosphere here, and I have found many friends,” she says while walking through a new ‘bio-healthy’ garden opened in these facilities, in the district of El Puntal. From now on she will be able to exercise outdoors, while she enjoys the sun. At 75 years old, Concha is in good physical shape, and the activities she has been carrying out in Afamur for the last year and a half have a lot to do with that.
She is a clear example of how crucial it is to detect Alzheimer’s as soon as possible and begin therapies when the disease is still in its initial stages. Along with physical activity, Concha participates in different group and individual therapies that aim to “slow down” the neurodegenerative process and improve her quality of life. “It is very important to start working with them, as soon as possible, with cognitive stimulation and exercise,” emphasizes Susana Caravaca, Afamur psychologist.
The president of the association, Maite Palacín, urges Health to work on this aspect. “Early diagnosis is vital, both for the patient and for the caregivers,” she emphasizes.
Afamur has 60 places in this center in El Puntal, of which 37 are arranged with the Murcian Institute of Social Action (IMAS). Six seats are still empty, waiting for the concert to be extended. Throughout the Region there are another 15 specific centers for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, with a total of 450 places, as detailed yesterday by the Minister of Social Policy, Conchita Ruiz, who visited the Afamur facilities this Thursday on the occasion of World Health Day. Alzheimer’s. The figures reflect how much remains to be done, if we take into account that in the Region there are 55,000 patients diagnosed with dementia and, of them, 38,500 with Alzheimer’s. Although there are many other places for older people in residences and day centers, those affected by Alzheimer’s require specialized resources such as those offered at Afamur. In this association they inevitably have a waiting list, both for private places and for those arranged and linked to the Agency system.
«We ask Social Policy to speed up the evaluations of people with Alzheimer’s, because sometimes many months pass and the disease progresses. Patients need to have access to therapies as soon as possible,” warns Maite Palacín. The counselor promised to address this problem, and she also promised to promote family respite programs, aimed at caregivers.
In Afamur, Concha and the rest of the users now have outdoor gym equipment in a ‘bio-healthy’ garden thanks to the donation from the Gmp Foundation. Silvio, 79 years old, enjoys using one of the devices for the first time. «I have always been very athletic; “I have played a lot of soccer,” he says while following the instructions of Javier Lucas, one of the center’s physiotherapists.
But there is much more here: stimulation through art (such as theater and music), cognitive stimulation in a multisensory room, and professional support from educators, physiotherapists and psychologists, lists Inocencia Gil, the center’s director. The challenge now is for these types of resources to reach many thousands of other people affected by Alzheimer’s throughout the Region.
A “light of hope” in new treatments
After decades in the dark in the fight against Alzheimer’s, scientists seem to be getting closer to finding truly effective treatments to stop or cure the disease. There is “a light of hope,” highlights Maite Palacín, the president of Afamur. In the United States, lecanemab has already been approved, a monoclonal antibody directed against amyloid plaques that form due to the accumulation of this protein in the brain of those affected by Alzheimer’s. The trials point to a possible reduction in cognitive decline. In addition, there are other drugs still being studied that show promise. The Region participates in some of these investigations through hospitals and the IMIB, highlighted the Minister of Health, Juan José Pedreño.
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