From December 11 to 13, 2014, a workshop was held in Sofia of the experts from the Danube Network for training and care for patients with dementia, who are working on the preparation of a Program for optimizing care for patients with dementia and their families. Experts from the Danube countries took part in the meeting - Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria.
The aim of the initiative is to improve the quality of he alth and social services for patients with dementia and their families, using all possible good practices from the participating countries. At the meeting, the experts planned important steps to increase public awareness and sensitivity to the problems of dementia patients and their relatives; the training and qualification of all he alth professionals involved in the process of diagnosis, treatment and care for patients with dementia - neuropsychologists, neurologists, he alth care professionals, geriatricians; the coordination and coordination of actions between he alth and social institutions at the national level, as well as the financial provision of assistance.
This is what Prof. Lachezar Traikov, one of the world's best specialists in vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease, said on this occasion.
Prof. Traikov, how socially significant is dementia?
- Dementia is the most disabling manifestation of most neurodegenerative diseases. As it progresses, cognitive and behavioral disorders lead to a progressive loss of the patients' autonomy. The opinion of the experts from the World He alth Organization is that dementia is one of the most serious he alth and social problems of the 21st century, which in terms of importance already ranks next to vascular and oncological diseases.
The results of an epidemiological study conducted in Bulgaria indicate that the incidence of dementia, equal to 7.2%, is comparable to that reported in studies with similar age and race contingents conducted in Europe, America and Australia. These data make a good enough case for focusing on the fight against this socially significant affliction.
Do you already know how to fight these conditions?
- On the initiative of the Ministry of He alth and with the active participation of an expert center at Aleksandrovsk Hospital, the development of a national concept for diagnosis, treatment and care for patients with Alzheimer's disease and their families is underway. The ideas and proposals for a subsequent national action plan laid down in the national concept are in accordance with the accepted guidelines for reforms of the he alth and social policy in the member states of the European Union, namely coordination of medical and social services, as well as improvement of coordination between the he alth, the social, educational and financial sectors. Partnership building and the exchange of experience from more advanced countries is essential for the dissemination of good practices.
Together with your team, you have developed a quick test that tells if we are at risk of dementia. Could you please explain what this method is?
- The method is so efficient that it is applied throughout Europe. In 5 minutes, every jeep in our country can apply it to their patients and thus "catch" the disease even before it appears. The test is quite simple and anyone can check themselves. The test lasts exactly one minute. In the first 15 seconds, 10 cities must be listed, in the next 15 seconds - 10 animals. Further, again in 15 seconds one has to name 10 fruits and in the last 15 seconds - 10 colors. After the minute is up, you add up the listed objects. If your score is above 29 points, there is nothing to worry about. However, if you are under 29, you must
see your GP immediately
who can give you a referral to a specialist. According to the test, you have a serious tendency to develop Alzheimer's disease over the years.
You must be tired of hearing me say that solving sudoku, reading and learning a foreign language are the best cures for senile sclerosis. Brain exercise for people over the age of 65 is a must because it can delay the development of dementia, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's by at least 10 years.
During your free days, you and Prof. Raicheva teach the jeeps how to recognize the disease…
- There are no geriatricians in Bulgaria, unlike in France, where such specialists serve dementia patients. The jeeps are the first to meet these patients, they should be informed about the matter. Yes, on Saturdays and Sundays we train GPs, we travel around the country. The interest is great, in Plovdiv the hall we were in was bursting at the seams. At least 30-40 jeeps attend these training seminars - to feel the screening cards, to see that it's okay that
takes 4-5 minutes
and are very useful in their work.
You mentioned that even walking plays its prevention over dementias…
- In order not to forget where we live, in addition to gymnastics for the brain, we must also emphasize physical exercises. Walks in the park, light morning exercise and in no case hanging in front of the TV. I've always wondered how a series can "hook" thousands in front of the TV! But it is a fact and it happens, and for the elderly, TV prevention begins and ends with Turkish series. You can't evoke anything from them as an emotion, as a reasoning, but 1/3 of Bulgarians sit in front of the monitors.
Will building day care centers help care for the seriously ill?
- 98% of Bulgarian patients are cared for at home, only 2 percent receive care in a home or center. We expect this to change, the relatives of these patients must work. Unfortunately, the neuropsychological consultation in Bulgaria is not paid for by the He alth Insurance Fund. If there is some sort of minimum wage, people will be interested and the demented will be detected early.
The construction of daycare centers, counseling centers will cover more people, through the work in them, through the tests we will detect every stage of dementia. Let's call them a place for prevention, but I am sure that they will "catch" the disease in its early stages. If the diagnosis takes us a few months, then the care takes years. It is necessary to train he alth professionals who will work in the centers, as well as coordinating personnel who will support the family of the demented patient with information and logistics - referral to these centers.