Alzheimer's Awareness Month in Samoa

This month is World Alzheimer’s Awareness month and awareness campaign efforts have been seen around the world to raise awareness and draw attention to the deadly disease.

There has even been a march for the cause by the Agency for Better Living Endeavors in Utulei, American Samoa.

In Samoa discussions on the mentally degenerative disease has barely surfaced in places where this disease would most likely be found.

The sisters at Mapuifagalele Home for the Aged in Vailele say they are familiar with dementia and they have rarely seen cases of Alzheimers amongst their residents. 

Sister Lucy, caretaker and nun at Mapuifagalele says that only a few of the elderly residents have cases of dementia.

“It’s not something we seek to treat like a sickness. It’s not a disease to us, but rather a part of the aging process.”

There is a ward at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital for treatment of mental illnesses but they cater to more serious cases for catatonic or violent tendencies. Samoa does not have an asylum for these cases either.

Sister Lucy also says that she does not see much from the residents in terms of Alzheimers and was surprised to hear about the awareness this month.

“They are looking for emotional connection, many of them are lonely and they roam but don’t cause trouble. They enjoy the company of visitors a lot and that of the other residents it keeps them happy," she said.

Mapuifagalele is the only elderly people’s home in Samoa, with a lack of geriatric care in the country due to the cultural practice of families taking care of their elderly in their own homes. 

The Home for the Aged is run by the Little Sisters of Poor, who have been actively serving the Samoan community for over 40 years.

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