The first free charge Memory cafe in Yerevan
Since October, the first Memory Cafe has been operating in the center of Yerevan. This is a great way and place for elderly to get together and engage in mental activity that helps keep the cognitive skills and abilities they have. Through this free program, Alzheimer’s Care Armenia has attempted to develop community service for the elderly and identify older people who need help even in their own homes.
Nancy Barsamyan, a member of the board of directors of Alzheimer’s Care Armenia, notes that this initiative, implemented within the framework of the Brain Health Armenia project with a grant, also helps families take care of their loved ones when they face certain difficulties. According to her, specialists teach caregivers how to care for elderly family members who have certain memory problems. Visitors of the memory cafe first go through a screening process to assess cognitive function. Early prophylactic testing detects certain memory problems at an early stage when they do not interfere with a person’s socialization and quality of life.
“It has been proven that if you lead a healthy lifestyle, eat healthy and fresh food, get an education, exercise daily, stimulate your brain, then you are engaging in activities that keep you alert, which improves your quality of life. Our desired result is that when we retest the cognitive functions of the same older person, we will definitely see that the original picture has changed, and even if there is no improvement in memory, there is no deterioration. This is how we measure the result of our work,” explains Ofelia Kamavosyan’s guest.
According to N. Barsamyan, specialists and people working with older people should be compassionate and understanding, able to understand what this elderly person is going through at the moment and what he has gone through throughout his life, what he has overcome, whether it is loss family or loss of ability to manage their own affairs. “The next important thing is to give them hope that everything will be fine. We need to show these people that everything they have passed on to the next generation will be continued and highly valued,” explains the specialist, who has dedicated her entire professional life to the elderly. She emphasizes that older people should be cared for in addition to family members by a specialized team, as older people have different needs at home, in the hospital and in the care facility.
“A multidisciplinary team working with the elderly should include a social worker who will assess the needs of the elderly, a nutritionist who will help with proper nutrition, a doctor who is responsible for therapy to maintain muscle strength and mobility, for physical activity, and a psychologist who works with them, with cognitive abilities. This is really a team approach,” explains N. Barsamyan.
She notes that it is extremely important for older people to be among other people, in company, to have other incentives, to have conversations, to feel important, to discuss books they have read or to reflect on events that have happened to them. members of their families. Indeed, it can certainly be considered a support system.
“This is very difficult to do when you are at home all day, you have no job, you live in a large family where the needs and desires of children and everyone else are more important and considered a priority. While the needs of older people can be a little distracted, when they go out and connect with other people, in their peer environment, they have the opportunity to support each other and learn from each other. I am absolutely sure that for many people this socialization is important to maintain the level of their abilities,” says N. Barsamyan.
Regarding the differences in nursing work in the field of older people in Armenia and the United States, the specialist notes that the work of nurses there is somewhat similar to the work of doctors. they know how to prescribe medicines, diagnose a disease, monitor the course of a disease. Laws in Armenia do not allow nurses to continue training in their profession, develop their knowledge and receive higher education degrees.
“For example, in Armenia you will not meet a doctor of sciences as a nurse. There should be more opportunities to improve their education, because I know that the Armenians in this country are so smart and very well educated, and nurses have not yet reached this level of education, because traditionally it is not accepted. I know that well-educated nurses will be our future leaders, and as you educate nurses, access to, quality of, and satisfaction with health care will improve dramatically.’, notes N. Barsamyan.