Thursday, July 30th, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: If you are one of the many Belizeans whose loved ones suffer from end-of-life disorders such as dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease and others, it can be very frustrating when the person whom you have loved all your life may occasionally drift away from you or lash out without knowing why.
There are also many senior citizens robbed of their mobility as they age. Helpage Belize this week hosted a group of therapists and physicians from the University of Indianapolis to offer a free clinic on occupational and mental health therapy for caregivers of older citizens as well as free physical therapy and checkups for senior citizens at their office in Belize City.
Dr. Candace Beitman, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy of the University of Indianapolis was a facilitator for the occupational health therapy seminar and said that these disorders involve some loss of memory and faculty and that patients need the caregiver’s patience and understanding – even if that involves a few “white lies” to calm him or her down.
Retired educator and caregiver for her 86 year old mother Brenda Armstrong, a participant in the conference, shared her experience with us. Her mother is a dementia patient and she said that even on the most frustrating days, it is important to remember that that person is going through a trouble not of their own making.
Younger persons need to get more informed though there is really little that can prepare one for this, she said.
On the physical side, Master’s degree candidate in occupational therapy Karena Skibinski shared some tips for staying physically active in old age – taking walks, preferably with friends, and doing regular exercise and moving around to combat the sedentary lifestyle.
Physical therapy and mental health are connected because lack of activity can cause the mind and body to deteriorate.
Similar sessions were held in Belmopan and San Ignacio earlier this month. The final session in Belize City is tomorrow, Friday.
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