Alzheimer patients in Aruba victim of neglect and abuse

POSTED: 09/25/13 5:54 PM

ORANJESTAD, Aruba – “Some patients are tied to their beds for the sake of convenience. They have to sit in their own feces for days because there is no time to clean them up,” says Melva Croes-Yánez, the president of the Alzheimer Foundation in Aruba. “People with the early stages of Alzheimer are often taken for a ride or they are abused. This year alone nineteen cases have been reported to us. The problem is that these patients are afraid to file a complaint so there is not much we can do. They are often in a dependent position towards those who abuse them. By law whistleblowers ought to be protected. Especially with the eye on the future, when this vulnerable group will only become bigger.”

If the trend continues Aruba will have 3,800 patients with Alzheimer’s or related illnesses, the Amigoe reported yesterday. This is 2.5 times as many as the 1,500 patients the island had in 2010. “This makes Aruba worldwide one of the fastest growing countries in the field of Alzheimer’s and related illnesses,” says Rob Croes of the Fundacion Alzheimer Aruba.

The foundation made the prognosis based on its own research after the recent publication of alarming data in the World Alzheimer Report. “Worldwide there is an enormous growth. It indicates a threefold increase by 2050 compared to 2010. But in Aruba the number of patients will have triples twenty years sooner,” Croes says. “The statistics show a strong growth in ageing for the coming years. In our prognosis 14 percent of people over 65 years of age will get Alzheimer’s or a related illness. By 2030 that amounts to 3,800 people.”

According to Croes the increase has everything to do with the so-called baby-boomers from the fifties when the Aruban economy was strong and some families had as many as ten children. “The sky was the limit but now we are paying the price. The workers that were contracted internationally to work in the oil and tourism industry and who settled down in Aruba now belong to the group that is ageing.”

FAA-president Melva Croes-Yánez foresees a disastrous scenario. “There is a tsunami coming, we are waiting for the final blow. The elderly cannot count on the younger generation for care like before. Children these days fly out, they go and study and work. Seniors stay behind and are at the mercy of caregivers who are under enormous pressure.”

According to Croes-Yánez a lot of care is already provided now by uncertified help. “For instance household help. They often don’t even have a first aid diploma, but in the meantime they are charged with the regular care for a neglected Alzheimer patient.”

That the number of Alzheimer patients is increasing is a fact, but not everybody agrees about the necessary measures. “To handle the costs of care there is no other way than drastically increase the AZV-premium,” Croes-Yanez says. “The first measures have already gone into effect in May of last year. The costs for a differential diagnosis, a neuro-psychological examination to establish which mental functions are going down will no longer be compensated from the age of 65.”

Croes-Yanez is also concerned about the future of Alzheimer-patients. “It is a vulnerable group that needs to be protected by law.”


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