alz-assoc-logoThe Alzheimer’s Disease Programme started in 1996 as a project of the President of the Soroptimist International Club of Port of Spain with a Seminar entitled “Alzheimer’s Disease: The Affected Person And The Caregiver.” Following this support groups were formed and these persons became the core group of the Alzheimer’s Association  of Trinidad and Tobago which was registered as a Non Profit Organisation on 16 June 2000 and then became a full member of Alzheimer’s Disease International (The International Federation of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Societies, Inc) in 2004. The Patron is H.E. Arthur N.R. Robinson, T.C.,  O.C.C., S.C.

Its vision is a life of dignity, with acceptance, support and security and its mission is to respect the persons with dementia and their caregivers and to improve their quality of life through support, information, education and research.

From its inception the Association has liaised with the PAHO/WHO country representatives, the Ministry of Health, the Division of Ageing- Ministry of the People and Social Development, Ministry of  Community Development (Geriatric Adolescent Partnership Programme), University of the West Indies Psychiatry Unit- Memory Clinic Mt. Hope, University of the West Indies Medical Research Unit (Prevalence Study). It has had the full support of Neal and Massy Foundation and the First Citizens Bank ( Legal Division) and received numerous Memorial Donations.

In 2003, a partnership was formed with the Alzheimer Society of Canada  which was formalized in 2006 with the ADI’s Twinning programme. This has been very beneficial to both groups and a strong bond of friendship continues to exist. In 2005, President Norma Inniss was elected to the ADI Elected Board for the period 2005-2009 at the end of which she was re-elected for another three year period 2009 -2012.

In May 2008 the Twin partners Mrs. Debbie Benczkowski (Canada) and Mrs. Norma Inniss (Trinidad and Tobago) gave a presentation at the First World Summit and Symposium on Eldercare Mediation in OttawaCanada.

Several members have had the opportunity to attend conferences facilitated by ADI and Alzheimer Society of Canada and benefited tremendously. They have also taken part in the ADI Showcase at conferences exhibiting the work done in the country.

Support Groups in T&T

There are four support groups which meet monthly in Port of Spain, Arima, San Fernando and Tobago. During the year the Association facilitates several educational/outreach programmes, lectures throughout the country, seminars, radio and TV interviews and participates in Public Fora of the Division of Ageing, Health Fairs of the Government Ministries and other Organisations. It is proposed to start activities for persons with early stage dementia and also programmes for children and teenagers in schools.

The biggest awareness events each year are the activities held for World Alzheimer’s Month/Day in September which usually ends in October as each group has their own programme. The themes used are chosen by ADI. The theme used last year was “Dementia: Living Together- Eliminating Fear and Stigma” which was very well addressed by Dr. Rajeev Khaga, Psychiatrist at St. Ann’s Hospital and received by participants at the Seminars in Port of Spain and Arima. It was also aired on the radio on World Alzheimer’s Day.Programmes were also held in Tobago and San Fernando. This year’s theme is “ Dementia: A Journey of Caring”

The Annual General Meeting of the Association is held during the month. A new Board of Directors is elected biennually. Membership is open to caregivers, persons with dementia, relatives, friends and all other interested persons.

As the ageing population is increasing it appears that more families are recognizing that their relatives are developing or have some form of
dementia. At present the prevalence of the disease is estimated, however this is being addressed as a project on the “Prevalence and Economic Cost Of Dementia in Trinidad and Tobago is in progress, undertaken by the Medical Research Unit of the University of the West Indies.