Cyprus Mail

Parliament highlights lack of support for Alzheimer’s patients

elderly, euthanasia, medical, old people, old folks,

The lack of dedicated facilities for Alzheimer’s patients and the almost total absence of state support came up in parliament on Thursday, with government officials promising to take a closer look at the issue.

MPs discussed the lack of facilities and the need to include Alzheimer’s and related dementias in the national health system (Gesy).

Lawmakers heard that currently persons classed as paraplegics receive €400 in welfare, while quadriplegics receive €900. The amount can go up to €1,000, but only for end-stage Alzheimer’s patients.

In order for a person to qualify for one of these two benefits, they must be beneficiaries of Guaranteed Minimum Income. Unless someone is classed as a paraplegic or quadriplegics, they are ineligible for a benefit.

vice-president of the Larnaca branch of the Cyprus Alzheimer Association and Related DementiasAlexia Karaiskaki, vice-president of the Larnaca branch of the Cyprus Alzheimer Association and Related Dementias, said the association is the only one accredited for this disease on the island.

She called for more support from the state. Every year the state provides a mere €5,000 in support, she said.

A finance ministry official assured MPs that she would convey this to her superiors with a view to increasing the amount of the state grant.

Representatives of a Famagusta-based association said they’re unable to maintain a day-care centre precisely due to the lack of financial support.

During the discussion, MPs heard that globally there are an estimated 26.6 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s. However, that number dates to 2006.

For Cyprus, no data are available. That’s because there exists no national strategy for people with Alzheimer’s. Cyprus needs to have such a strategy in place by 2025.

According to projections, one in three persons aged over 65 will suffer from some form of dementia.

Demos Antoniou, a representative of the Third Age Observatory, said the number of Alzheimer’s patients would skyrocket in the coming years, with most ending up in nursing homes.

“It’s a disease that soaks up state funds…there are family carers who are in a bad state psychologically.”

Chair of the House health committee Efthymios Diplaros lamented the lack of proper facilities, adding that most Alzheimer’s patients end up in nursing homes.

He recalled that three years ago the ombudswoman had issued a report about goings-on at such facilities “where we heard about abuse suffered by patients cared for either at nursing homes, or at home by domestic workers.”

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