HUNGARIAN ALZHEIMER SOCIETY (HAS) Society of Relatives of Persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases
Count only the sunny hours!''
Non-governmental and local authorities, civil organizations - as members of Voluntary Sector - are playing a more and more significant role in health and social care, in order to increase the quality of nursing. HAS was established in 1999 for this specific reason, and on the other hand we also realized that – the number of dementia diseases sufferers is growing. Formerly the Society was operating as a Self-Help Fellow Sufferer Club, beginning in 1996.
Ten to twelve percent of people beyond 65 of age are suffering from this irreversible mental disorder – dementia, - which is a medical expression for lapse of memory and forgetfulness. Dementia results in the decline of mental functioning. Abilities in thinking, awareness, memory, concentration, learning, speaking, writing, estimation, self-sufficiency, adaptability to circumstances given, control of emotions and various motions, also fail, while personality is damaged too. Finally, all mental functions are gradually lost. These symptoms almost always indicate the person has suffered from Alzheimer Disease. At an elderly age, 50-70 percent of dementia is caused by AD.
The emerging symptoms
AD runs in various courses, but the most visible sign is forgetfulness. In the beginning, it means absent-mindedness in unessential matters, but later the sufferers will not even be able to recognize their relatives, or their own faces in the mirror. In many cases, first signs of AD are overlooked for a long time, or only the sufferer notices them. Mental decline has generally been associated with old age, - but these are signs of AD and the person should see a doctor. Medical therapy –available in Hungary - can slow down mental failing, and help patients to live better lives.
Influences of AD on relatives’ lives
As some of parts memory, learning and self-control abilities are lost, sufferers gradually lose their independence, and become dependent on others, effecting families, nurses, and society. Relatives often experience unawareness and helplessness in their environment. Other members of the family, and former acquaintances stay away, leaving them alone.
However, the most difficult problem is the emotional burden. While AD sufferers can live long lives – their mate looses them as husband/wife/parent. It can be very discouraging if the AD-patient does not even recognize or forgets the name of the very close relatives, but still in need for their individual help and company every day.
Our philosophy is that: the most human solution is to keep AD sufferers in their own environment as long as possible, because it helps them to keep up the accustomed manners and the usual connections.
According to our experience, relatives generally live at the same places and take care of AD sufferers, - until they are able to manage by themselves - at a certain point they are taken to a hospital.
Relatives’ depression - and other emerging psychological disorders
Relatives are often at the edge or beyond their financial, physical and psychological tolerance. They tend to ignore the dangers of overworking and stress, which results in psychosomatic sicknesses as depression/headache or stomach disease etc. Yet, they do not deal with it, because of the worry: “what will happen to my Dad/Mum/Husband if I get sick?”
Relatives’ Club as a fellowship
HAS founders understood that relatives’ fellowship (and the various assisting teams organized by them) could be an enormous help to each other, giving the opportunity to share problems with those who had tackle the situation already. Their experience was - as Relatives’ Club has been around for 4 years – that the problems were similar. Usually one relative takes care of the AD sufferer alone. In fact, they completely give up their former life for them. Only people in the same situation can understand how difficult to deal with dementia patients.
Now, within the “Memory Club”, our volunteers treat the patients individually and in teams for skill development once a week for 5 hours in “Akácos Udvar”, Budapest, Hungary.
This is a club aimed at building interpersonal relationships in a familiar environment, and helps dementia sufferers to keep up their essential abilities necessary to live their everyday lives. Practically, it means: playing various memory games, speaking, writing, reading, counting, understanding and recognizing trainings, as well as reality awareness and orientation therapy. Tasks are set individually, according to personal abilities: each patient should do them with joy and success. Relatives can also learn, and repeat these trainings at home.
Continuously follow with attention (and help if needed): the AD sufferers’ health-care, mental capacity/development, social-, governmental-, legal-, etc. environment.
HAS assists of all family members with the tasks of, skill improvement and nursing. For this reason, HAS wants to provide them with more free services like special therapy, welfare workers, etc. (with the aid of “Memory Foundation” Hungary, other professional organizations, w/ the relevant legal authorization). HAS aims to involve district doctors too, focusing on AD diagnosis, in order to start treatment as early as possible.
Organization of dementia sufferers and their caretakers into familiar fellowships, and the “network” is also a very important task for HAS. That’s why it builds and maintains relationships with other local and foreign associations aimed at the same object.
Since its basic activity is to safeguard dementia-patients’ interests, HAS has also been connected with every governmental and non-governmental organization, which makes decisions that affect them. It takes part in activities of professional and welfare worker teams and organizations.
HAS cooperates with the sanitary/welfare network, and with other governmental, and social community organizations. Its leadership comes forward with suggestions to the relevant political and social institutes.
Being in contact with the “Chain” Federation, HAS also has good connections with other Hungarian organizations, which help people with chronic illnesses.
Making the most of its possibilities HAS leaders take part in discussions with the Hungarian Parliament about codification and wording of legislation (Act on Guardianship, etc), within the specific scope of its activity.
HAS makes publicity work one of its main tasks.
Everyone interested can be informed about the local or foreign therapy opportunities, research results, legal rights of patients, etc. Therefore HAS organizes public presentations (visitors are welcomed from other respective patient groups) related with the patients’ problems. In order to share information about these activities, HAS operates an information service phone and e-mail.
HAS also publishes newsletters, AD patients, their relatives, and the medical and social workers and organizations see AD from each other’s view and educate one another.
In the near future HAS plans to extent its education programme via the media (TV, articles, handouts, Internet).
HAS will also delegate members to attend public presentations, trainings and conferences related to AD and/or Chronic Illnesses.
Headquarters: H-1021 Budapest, Labanc u. 53/a. fsz./1.
Information Service: (36) 1-214-1022
President: Éva Himmer
Vice president: Dr. Árpád Nagy, Szilvia Schiffler
Tax Account Number: 18097072-1-41
Bank Account Number: 62100229 15600132 Hatvan és Vidéke Bank
Place of activity: H-1021 Budapest, Labanc u. 53/a. fsz./1.