Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 24, 2017: Specialists from the Dubai Health Authority discussed today the importance of healthy ageing and proactive geriatric care for the elderly to minimize health complications and to reduce their dependence on caregivers so that they can an independent life to the best extent possible.
Salwa Al Suwaidi, Director of Family Gathering Centre in Al Mamzar, which is the sole centre for the elderly in the emirate, highlighted the concept of healthy ageing and said: “ Presently the percentage of Emiratis above the age of 60 years, in the UAE is 7 per cent, this percentage is expected to reach 11 per cent in 2032 and 19 per cent in 2050. Life expectancy is also increasing. In the 1960s, in UAE the life expectancy was 53 years, today according to DHA statistics, average life expectancy for the elderly in Dubai is 81 years for females and 78 for males and it is higher compared to some other Middle-Eastern countries.
“Therefore proactive ageing should begin when a patient is in their mid-40s or early-50s. The functional age of a person is more important than the biological age, because in a majority of cases the functional age is higher than the biological age due to a several factors such as stress, unhealthy lifestyle, etc,” she said.
She added: “There is a need for the middle-aged population to be aware of the concept of healthy ageing. When they come to us at an earlier age, we can evaluate their functional age and assess the current problems that they face. Early detection will ensure reducing or even reversing some of the effects of ageing. Based on the details of the report and their functional age, we tailor-make programs to slow the ageing process and maximize bodily and mental functional capabilities of the individual. This is achieved through physiotherapy, memory training, cognitive therapy and medication to treat co-morbidities that are detected during assessment.”
DHA primary healthcare centres have several specialised clinics for the elderly including geriatric clinics, memory and dementia clinic, osteoporosis clinic, rehabilitation and fall clinic to help elderly patients get specialised care. The geriatric clinics provide comprehensive geriatric assessment as well as vaccinations required by the elderly such as the seasonal flu vaccine and the meningococcal vaccine. The aim of this service is to encourage the elderly who do not require inpatient services to get themselves checked regularly so that they can reduce or even prevent the complications associated with ageing.”
Besides these services, in order to provide specialised support to the elderly, the Family Gathering Centre began a support group initiative in June 2013 and so far ten meetings have been held. The support group is particularly useful for caregivers, friends and family members of patients with Alzheimer’s as they can share their experience and provide much-needed emotional and social support.
Al Suwaidi said: “We encourage family and friends of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias to join this group so that we can impart education as well as support them. The group holds a meeting on the first Thursday of every month and its aim is to provide emotional, educational, and social support for family and friends of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.”
In addition to this, the Centre also has a 24/7 Alzheimer’s Helpline (056 3710077) that provides reliable information and support to caregivers, healthcare professionals and the public and so far the hotline has received 120 calls, including many international calls.