Dealing with dementia

UTAR Centre for Corporate and Community Development (CCCD) in collaboration with the Centre for Research on Communicable Diseases (CRCD) organised a webinar titled “Dementia- the Silent Killer of Brain” on 9 August 2021 via Zoom.

Present to deliver the webinar was Lawrence Fong Kee Yee. Lawrence Fong started his profession in Nursing and has served the National Health Service in the United Kingdom (UK) as Registered General and Mental Nurse for 34 years.  He was with the St John Ambulance, UK for almost 14 years and acquired his Licensed Western Medical Acupuncture in the year 2004 from the British Academy of Western Medical Acupuncture, Liverpool UK. The webinar was moderated by Faculty of Science lecturer Dr Saw Seow Hoon.

Lawrence Fong encouraging participants to keep the brain active to prevent dementia

Lawrence Fong started his webinar by defining Dementia. He said, “Dementia is a group of diseases which affect the normal function of the brain. It will affect the logical (reasoning) function of the brain, especially the short-term memory part of the brain. The most common dementia consists of Alzheimer's Disease, Vascular Dementia, Korsakov's Syndrome, Lewy Body Dementia and Pick's Disease Dementia. This variety of diseases and injuries affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language and judgement.”

He highlighted, “Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among elderly worldwide and it can be overwhelming, not only for the people who have it, but also for their caretakers and families.”

Other topics discussed by Lawrence Fong include “causes of dementia”, “early signs and symptoms”, “final signs and symptoms”, “diagnosis and treatments”, “cause of death” and “how to avoid Alzheimer’s disease”.

He then moved on to discuss the causes of dementia which are inheritance; injury or trauma to the brain; stroke or cerebra accident; aluminium poisoning; chronic alcoholism; air pollution; poor quality of sleep; poor diet, stress, anxiety and depression. He explained, “The glymphatic system controls the intertidal solute and fluid clearance from the brain. The system regulates brain amyloid clearance by the perivascular space that surrounds the cerebral blood vessels. The activity of the glymphatic system is higher during sleep and lower or disengaged during wakefulness. Therefore, sleep is very important in terms of dementia. People who suffer from poor sleep or insomnia is most likely get dementia.”

Lawrence Fong showing participants the early and final symptoms of dementia

While sharing the ways to avoid Alzheimer’s disease, Lawrence Fong said, “You need to always keep the brain active. Exercise to prevent chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, colorectal disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, etc. Practise Mediterranean diet by eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, olive oil, fish, etc. Also, keep in touch with friends, keep a pet and develop some new hobbies and interests.”

Lawrence Fong sharing some fun facts about champagne and sparkling wine that help to protect our brain against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases

He concluded, “The age of people suffering from dementia is getting younger and younger, unfortunately. It’s not necessary that you’ll get dementia only when you grow old; that is a common misunderstanding. There are some people who still have sharp minds despite being in their 80’s.”

The webinar then saw an active interaction between the speakers and the participants. The talk ended with an extensive yet insightful Q&A session.

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