International Day of Older Persons Symposium

The number of senior citizens in the country is expected to increase by 7.8 percent in 2021. This will qualify Brunei Darussalam as an aging country where the old are more than 7 percent of the total population. Speaking at the launch of the International Day of Older Persons 'Dementia' Day Symposium 2019 this morning, Dayang Saidah binti Wahid, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Community at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports said one of the issues often faced by senior citizens is Dementia. She said, according to the World Health Organisation, WHO it is estimated that 2,000 people in the country experienced Dementia in 2017.

The symposium was launched by Yang Berhormat (Retired) Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.

In her speech Dayang Saidah also outlined the ministry's preparations and plans to face the increasing number of senior citizens in the country through plans implemented under Senior Citizens Issue Action Plan which include the Senior Citizens Activities Centre and Pusat Masyarakat Bestari or The Intelligent Community Centre that provide lifelong learning including the Info-technology (IT) Literacy Programme conducted by AITI at the Senior Citizens Activity Centre in Brunei Muara District. The programme will later be extended to the whole country. Computers will also distributed as preparations towards achieving IT literate senior citizens beginning at Tutong Senior Citizens Activities Centre and then to the other districts. The programme is also hoped to be able to produce and increase the senior citizens' income through 'social enterprise'.

A number of working papers were presented during the symposium. Datin Jacqueline Wong, Honorary Advisor of Dementia Brunei in her working paper 'The Journey to Age Equality' shared that an estimated 50 million people experience Dementia throughout the world. Datin Wong added the number is expected to increase in 2030 and rise three folds by 2050.

Dr. Shyh Poh Teo, President of Dementia BRUNEI gave a briefing on the 'Introduction to Dementia'. She said there is no scientific treatment for Dementia but equipping the community with the correct information can play a big factor for those affected by the disease.

Dayang Hajah Kartini binti Haji Suhai, Nursing Officer (Special Grade) at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital among other things shared factors which cause dementia such as aging, effects of medicines, visual problem, body balance disturbance such as deterioration of the vestibular system and confusion of thoughts that may reduce coordination of movements.

The symposium was attended by about 800 participants comprising senior citizens from the Senior Citizens Activities Centre and the Intelligent Community Centre in the four districts, Senior Citizens Organisation and non-government bodies. With the theme the 'Journey to Age Equality' the symposium is hoped to gather information and solutions for planning and improving related matters in order to improve the well-being and welfare of senior citizens as part of ways to address Dementia in the country.

Source: Radio Television Brunei

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