The first regional conference on dementia is currently being held in Malta, with experts, politicians and professionals meeting in workshops to plan a strategy to affront the dementia problem, which is increasing as people live longer. The conference is discussing a plan of action to meet future scenarios when persons with dementia are expected to double by 2050.
Described as a major fight that will engage medical experts during the 21st Century, a group of international experts are meeting in Malta for the regional conference in the Mediterranean and Easter Europe, organised by the World Health Organisation.
Dan Chisholm, a mentali health officer in WHO’s regional Office, said advances made through research paved the way for the foundations of collaborative plans and strategies on dementia.
“Within the European Region there is a huge variation… and it’s down to which countries are ready and prepared to address the situation regarding dementia.. Malta would be an example of a leader country, because it has it’s own strategy, it’s got clear policies and there are resources allocated to different aspects of prevention and care of dementia.”
Dr Chisholm added that research shows that apart from genetic factors, dementia may be the result of our lifestyle. As examples, he mentioned the balance diet and more exercise, smoking and alcohol drinking moderation. Stress and dependence on technology, he said, are factors that possibly aggravate dementia although more research is needed.
“We talk about healthy bodies but we can also talk about healthy minds and there are things you can do, simple things, like my mother you know she is eighty two and she loves her sudoku, others do crosswords and keep their brain active, another thing you can do is learn a new language for example… these are all ways of keeping your brain fit and healthy and exercised in that sense.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Active Aeging, Anthony Agius Decelis, said that Malta remains committed to promote the rights, dignity and autonomy of persons with dementia, while legislation was passed to achieve these targets.
Professor Charles Scerri, a dementia researcher, said that the Malta meetings will further lead to a collective action to fight dementia in various countries and regions.