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If you or someone close to you is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, forget about getting help from medical aid – in most cases, it is simply unavailable. This is the glaring reality in South Africa today that Alzheimer’s South Africa hopes to change with an initiative called Alzheimer’s in Action.

“Alzheimer’s affects thousands of families every year with devastating results. In spite of this, most South African medical aids do not recognise it as a chronic illness,” says Alzheimer’s SA regional director Jill Robson.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive terminal illness with no cure. It y affects people 65 years of age and older and sufferers need full-time care when the disease reaches advanced stages.

According to Robson, Alzheimer’s also makes treating other diseases more expensive.  Most people with Alzheimer’s have one or more other serious medical conditions. Dementia complicates management of these conditions. New research from the United States also suggests that chronic and often severe stress associated with dementia caregiving may exert substantial risk for the development of dementia in spouse caregivers.”

There are currently some 750 000 people in South Africa who have the disease, with many facing financial ruin as a result. Paying for care is problematic as Alzheimer’s disease is not listed as a chronic disease, which leaves sufferers incapable of accessing the much-needed support of their medical aid.

Alzheimer’s in Action hopes to change the situation and has launched a lobbying website – www.alzheimersinaction.co.za - as a call to action. The site was launched to try and persuade government to persuade the medical aids to include Alzheimer’s disease in their future planning. “We would like them to pay for day and respite care and to treat the disease as a chronic condition, paying for the medication on chronic,” says Robson.

For more information, visit www.alzheimersinaction.co.za or send email toinfo@alzheimersinaction.co.za.

 Alzheimer’s South Africa is the leader in the field of Alzheimer’s and dementia in South Africa. The organisation provides support, education, training and information around the ailments. It is partly funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and is a beneficiary of the MySchool project.  For more information, visit www.alzheimers.org.za.

For information:

Jill Robson, tel: 021 979 2724

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