Science: Coffee science

Yesterday’s coffee science: It’s good for the brain. Today: Not so fast…*

The Washington Post – by Ariana Eunjung Cha


There’s been a ton of news recently about how awesome coffee can be for many aspects of your health — heart disease, longevity, depression, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s.  The scientific data has been so strong that the nation’s top nutrition panel recommended earlier this year that people might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

Now comes a sobering report.

In a study evaluating 1,445 people, scientists found that consistently drinking one to two cups of coffee each day is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — a precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s — compared to those who never or rarely consumed coffee. That supports previous work, published in 2010, that showed that caffeine may have a neuroprotective effect.

For the whole article: Washing Post

Project: Mental Health Innovation Network

Today I would like to introduce to you the Mental Health Innovation Network. This isn’t really a project, but we will treat it as such for the sake of spreading the good news.

What is the Mental Health Innovation Network?

Well, it is a community of researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, service user advocates, and donors from around the world. Their main purpose is to promote mental heath and improve the lives of people with mental, neurological and substance disorders by sharing resources and ideas.

According to the MHIN website they aim to facilitate the development and uptake of effective mental health interventions by:

  • Enabling learning
  • Building partnerships
  • Synthesizing and disseminating knowledge
  • Leveraging resources

You can read all about their history and how they started on the MHIN website.

Now all I have to do is get ourselves on the Mental Health Innovation Network. Are you part of it?


The Science: How Exercise Helps Curb Alzheimer’s Symptoms

How Exercise Helps Curb Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Reblogged from

Most studies so far have focused on the importance of physical activity before you develop Alzheimer’s. But can it treat the disease once you are diagnosed? Two studies hint that may be the case

In one study involving 200 people with mild or moderate disease, Dr. Steen Hasselbalch from the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues randomly assigned some participants to an hour of exercise three times a week for 16 weeks, while allowing the remainder to continue without a regular activity regimen. After a phase-in period, the exercisers were working at a moderate to intense level, achieving 70% to 80% of their maximum heart rate for at least half of each session.


Your Story: Why I Walk

See My Mom: Why I Walk – by Denise Novosel

Reblogged from:

My family has a history of Alzheimer’s. Both my grandmother and her brother were afflicted by this disease. My mom always worried she too would fall victim to Alzheimer’s. And I worried for her. So in 2007, when she abruptly retired from her job at a large Aerospace company at age 63, five years before she had planned to, I knew.

Alz walk 2014

The timeline of her progression through this disease is emblazoned in my brain as I too was experiencing life-changing events: the birth of my two children. There was nothing in the world that my mom wanted more than to be a grandmother. So when she forgot I was hospitalized for a potential pre-term delivery, I knew. From that moment on, I was on a quest to get her help and find answers.

Of course there were more signs, some subtle, some not so subtle. I kept pushing, kept asking. The response was always the same: “I’m fine. My doctor said I’m fine.” I knew she was not fine and insisted on a neurology referral. The neurologist ordered a CT scan and confirmed what we feared most: my mom had Alzheimer’s disease.

From that point on we have been on a journey that has tested our faith and strength. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for her–how scared and invisible she must have felt. Julianne Moore said it well when she won best actress for Still Alice, “So many people with Alzheimer’s feel marginalized. People who have Alzheimer’s disease deserve to be seen.”

I walk because my mom deserves to be seen.  I walk to raise awareness for the 5 million Americans like her living with Alzheimer’s now and for the people like me who love and care for them. I walk so that my children will never worry about me the way I worried about her.

Yes, that is why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Attempts at creating a National dementia strategy for Nigeria

Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia wants to publish the below letter for a number of reasons.

No 1 – We need to get the message out there.

No 2 – The struggle is so similar that it hurts.

And that is enough reason for us to help Rosetti Care in Nigeria. Please take time to read the below and help us to help them spread the word.

Dementia Nigeria

Attempts at creating a National dementia strategy for Nigeria

The Problem

I posted the article below on Facebook to jolt Nigerians into waking up and joining the rest of the world in the fight against Dementia (most seem to think that it is a “white man’s” disease!) The stigma is so entrenched, only two Nigerians ”liked” the posting, and only one Nigerian made a comment!

Lunacy, Witchcraft, and other Myths – what defines dementia in Nigeria

People acting out of the ordinary must be mad, or possessed by evil spirits and are therefore witches.  Mad people and witches are non people; they are ‘less’ than human; they are faceless vermin to be easily discarded.  Methods of discarding non people, lesser humans, faceless vermin: Friends and family dump them far away from home, somewhere they cannot be recognised or traced back to their roots. Places where they are nameless, faceless vermin, where they are either struck by fast moving vehicles and left to die with people passing by and doing nothing to help them; or where they are stoned/burnt to death as witches especially for talking to themselves and to people nobody else can see; or for acting irrationally. It only takes one person to point them out as witches for a crowd to quickly gather… and then there is no way of stopping the ‘mob justice’
Affluent families tend to lock theirs away from the community to avoid stigma. They pretend and tell friends or enquirers that their afflicted relative has travelled abroad, “gone away”. You see, madness and witchcraft are said to run in the family. Nobody marries into a family thus tainted and afflicted.

The Dementia Activist

For over two years now, I have been working hard raising dementia awareness in Nigeria mainly in order to remove the stigma and help persons with dementia and their loved ones understand the situation in which they find themselves. It is not easy living with dementia in any country, but it definitely is frighteningly fatal in Nigeria.

I had asked Alzheimer’s Society to roll their Dementia Friends programme (which is a huge success in the UK) into Nigeria as part of that initiative. After all Dementia is a global issue. I explained to them that the programme will slot in nicely into my Dementia Awareness plans for Nigeria, and that their training resources will provide current and added support. Of course, Nigeria will need to translate most of the resources into Nigerian languages (there are over 250), and put a Nigerian “slant” on them. After over a year of failed attempts at convincing the Alzheimer’s Society to go global with their awareness resources, I gave up, only to learn a couple of months ago that Canada and the Netherlands are now running Dementia Friends programme!

Prior to finding that out,  I had approached the global Purple Angel for assistance. I like the fact that it was founded and run by PWDs with direct experience of Dementia, which means other PWDs will relate easily with them. I feel honoured that they appointed me as Head of Operations, as well as an Ambassador of Purple Angel in Nigeria. In turn, I have so far appointed 15 Ambassadors (5 of these are professors, 3 are doctors and one is in the Senate) with 22 more in the pipeline. There are 36 States in Nigeria plus the Federal Capital Territory. The aim is to have one Ambassador each for each state and the FCT. This will ensure that not only will dementia awareness be raised all across Nigeria, but PWDs and their loved ones will feel they have some sort of local support no matter how minimal at the beginning. There is a plan to further divide the entire country into 6 or 8 zones with each zone having a Co-ordinator whose role it will be to relay feedback and to cascade updated training to their respective zones.

The Diplomat

Everything takes time in Nigeria! People here have expressed surprise at how fast we are moving. There is also our politics with capital P and small p. Too many tribal and societal issues. I don’t want to be seen to be prejudiced or “tribalistic”. People in high places who want in don’t have the time to go on campaign, and others have time but not the required access. Some States are embracing awareness faster than others, and it will be those slow ones that will complain later that they are being hard-done-by.

At the rate we are going, we will have more than one Ambassador in some States. I am mindful of ruffling feathers in those cases. So I have to ensure the multiple Ambassadors can work together, not against one another, otherwise the name Purple Angel might be damaged in the power struggle that might ensue. This is one of the reasons why I am advocating dividing the country into 6 or 8 non-political zones with each zone having a zonal co-ordinator. The hope is that the Nigerian government will very soon notice our activities and will want to claim it as their initiative, especially when the rest of the world asks what Nigeria has been doing about Dementia.

The Communication

The Nigerian Purple Angel Ambassadors have been holding events at physical locations as well as online, where we try to raise awareness and enlighten participants. We now have 4 Facebook pages dedicated to enlightening Nigerians on dementia related issues. The FB pages are: Dementia Nigeria, Dementia Care Society of Nigeria DCSoN (closed group), Purple Angel Dementia Awareness Nigeria, and Purple Angel Ambassadors Nigeria (private group). It is heartening to see the traffic on these FB pages, and the fact that most of the postings are regularly shared. This means that those who are still reticent in contributing to the discussions (due to stigma) are nonetheless sharing the information with friends and families.

I have also woven the our activities around such global events like, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Alzheimer’s Month, Mental Health Awareness, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Children Day, etc. I host these events at my facility, as well as arrange for some marches through towns and villages. We take the opportunity to raise Dementia awareness at these events. We are gearing up for Nigeria to become a part of the Age Friendly Communities and Cities!

The Funding

I am rather proud that we have the interest that we have, bearing in mind that Nigerians are not normally known to be involved in projects that do not reward them financially. The Ambassadors know that this is purely voluntary with no wage attached, and yet they want in!

As I have demonstrated, it does not require millions of UK pounds, or unscrupulous individuals with begging bowls running to the rest of the world for handout to raise awareness in Nigeria. It just needs local people who are willing to spare some of their time and energy to keep the ball rolling. Although I must admit the fact that I have been funding all these activities out my own money.

The Nigerian Ambassadors we have at present have agreed on future plans to raise funds within Nigeria in order to better support PWDs and loved ones. The hope is that we can convince the Nigerian government to take on part of the funding sooner rather than later. For now, some Churches, Mosques, Schools and Colleges are allowing us free access to their facilities where we can have Memory Cafes. Some private hospitals have also given us the free use of their premises as well as their doctors and nurses for Memory Clinics. We are currently working on getting some of Nigeria’s billionaires to donate some residential facilities as well as outreach and support personnel for those who are destitute and who are trying to live with Dementia.

Not The End……..


IFA Member – International Longevity Centre Canada


The International Longevity Centre (ILC-Canada), situated in the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Health Sciences, is an independent think tank with a focus on proposing ideas and guiding policy to address population ageing based on international and domestic research and practice.


ILC-Canada is concerned with a range of issues; however has particular interest in the area of health and long-term care and pays close attention to groups at risk.


Learn more on the ILC-Canada Website.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Ibadan – June 15 2015


To commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness day on 15 June 2015, Rossetti Care in association with Dementia Care Society of Nigeria and Dementia Nigeria teamed up with a local primary school to demonstrate the importance of older adults in a way that was both educational and fun for all.


“Growing up in Nigeria in the 60s the idea of elder abuse was inconceivable.  But times change and in the hustle bustle of our fast developing nation some of the older adults are being left behind, neglected and ill-treated.  This is a 21st century reality that needs to be addressed in Nigeria and throughout the world.” – Dementia Nigeria


Read more about WEAAD, Ibadan 2015 here.

Oom Hansie – A Cry for Help

Elderly Man in Hat - Black and White

Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia consists of a very small community. We work hard to make people aware of Alzheimer’s & Dementia in Namibia, but we remain a minority. As it is, we strive to help our residents. Most families that bring their afflicted to us, have little or no understanding of the intense needs of a resident with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. They also do not understand the costs of housing an elderly with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. And so it is that we received a notice that one of our residents are to be taken to a new care facility (a place where the staff are not trained to be care takers to Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients.) We are at a loss here as you will see below and we desperately need the help of donations. Please send this far and wide – maybe someone somewhere will open his heart to the incredible sad story of Mr Hansie van Rooyen.

Letter from ADN’s Berrie Holtzhausen to a member of the Van Rooyen Family.

Good morning S,

I am truly sorry to hear that you want to take Oom (uncle) Hansie away from his dementia family. Not only for him, but also for his new family here. I understand that you can only pay N$4500/month and that his sponsers have withdrawn and that the family is fine with moving him… but…

But because of Oom Hansie I will see if I can find new sponsers. If not, I understand that you will come to take him away at the end of July.

Regarding his payments, I just want to clarify the following; our monthly fees remain N$ 9,662.00 For the last six months ADN has paid for his basic medical needs which comes to N$1102/month – that is N$6616 for the last six months. We have also paid for his personal toiletries for more than 3 years as none of his family has been assisting in this area or thought that he needed toiletries. The deposit, as you will understand, has long since been used.

Why has the responsible party who signed oom Hansie’s contract not contacted me? Why has nobody informed me of the situation? Oom Hansie is a human being. I can only pray that the same will not happen to him at the new facility that happened to him when he landed with us. It took him months to get over the fact that he was simply dropped like a bag of potatoes on our front porch. He kept on saying that the Pastor and his wife simply dropped him, never to return. And he could not understand it. (Who does?)

Oom Hansie is deaf and therefor struggles to make conversation and it is difficult to understand him. This makes him a very lonely person among strangers. But here, here among his dementia family he sings and he laughs. This is his family. His people. His home. Hy never stays in his room, he is always in the living room where he can communicate in the intricate way he does. Where he sings ‘Ou Ryperd’ like only he does and where he talks about his red tractor.

I wish we can keep him here. But you have given us such short notice! I wish those responsible would have contacted me earlier!

We ADN, work with cash. Because we are a TRUST, no institution wants to provide us with a loan or credit facilities. For the last six months we have poured thousands into the new care facility. This month, specifically, is financially very difficult as we have keep on providing our residents with food etc. Our CEO, Linda, does her best to make ends meet and still manages to provide treats or our residents. I lay awake at night trying to figure things out. And sometimes I have to block my own thoughts just so that I can forget about Oom Hansie and his bag of potatoes, that he has been visited once and then never again. That he was rejected by his family because he is just a road worker and dropped his medical aid in his hour of need and was therefore seen as neglecting his wife. But he still is a human…

For us he is Hansie that can sing and laugh a toothless laugh. Hansie that still believes he has a red tractor and sheep. Hansie that can sing ‘Ou Ryperd’ like nobody else. Hansie that struggles to walk but still manages to go to the bathroom on his own.

I hope you understand that I am writing this letter with tears. I apologise, but I had to write. I have little or no time. I am leaving for South Africa in the morning to say goodbye to a friend. When I return, I have to head up to the Cunene to go visit our dementia family there. And when I get back here, I have to tell Oom Hansie that he is yet again to move. That he is to move to a house that is not his home.

Maybe you can send my plea onto his sponsors to reconsider. Maybe you can send it to his old church. Maybe I will think of a plan as I drive a thousand kilometres towards a friend. I don’t know… I’m at a loss of words.

All I know is that Oom Hansie can be moved. He cannot be taken away from his family that understands him and appreciates him. Not at this stage of his life. It is here that he must sing ‘Ou Ryperd’ until his very last breath and dream about his red tractor and his sheep. Here…

I hope you understand what I am trying to say.



Phone:  (00264) 064-461388/221114
Mobile: (00264) 081 2833983

Picture courtesy of Reporting on Health

News: ADN & the University of Namibia

UNAM, University of Namibia

Good Morning dear friends of Demenetia in Namibia

I have been very quiet over the last few months as we were busy preparing our new venue next to the Swakop river and finally moved at the beginning of May. A wonderful lady, Linda, joined our team and together she and I had a very busy time with a lot of challenges.

But this week Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia is making news again. Why?

The University of Applied Sciences in Muenster Germany is busy with a training workshop here in Namibia called;: Caring for elderly people in Namibia. This takes place at the University of Namibia (UNAM – as it is locally known). They invited ADN to take part in this very historical event.

I, Berry Holtzhausen, have been invited to lecture on Dementia in Namibia and will also be attending the workshop and take part in the lectures that they are running for the staff of UNAM’s medical school and other role players, like the Ministry of Health for example.

My hope and prayers are that after this week the most neglected group of people in Namibia – People living with Dementia – will never be neglected again. I also hope that I can sow a seed through the experiences of ADN in Namibia that Dementia needs to be seen as a health priority in Namibia.

That is all from me for now, but I hope to get back to you soon with an update.

Namibian Nurses

Her Name Was Ndjinaa

The following was written in Afrikaans by an anonymous writer who was deeply touched by the story of Ndjinaa… (Below the original piece is a translation by myself.

…haar naam was Ndjinaa

Daar is n storm in my hart wat broei. Soos Simson van ouds, n passie n droom. Dan sien ek haar vasgeketting soos n mal dier in die stof n bondel flenters bene. Haar oe is wild en verward haar gebabbel in die wind; almal lag, en is bang, die ou mal-vrou.

 Ek kyk na haar ek sien in haar verlepte oe, hoe sy smeek in haar wereld van stilte en seer. Onderhandelinge harde woorde omgee woorde sagte woorde jy is vasgevang in my.

 Dan die geklingel van n ketting wat breek jou gebreekte lyf, n siel stukkend vertrap, sak jy weg in n sinkbad in die stof. Sag gebad in die land van melk en heuning. Toegevou in meter en meters goud sag om jou lyf. Jou oe kyk na my vir n oomblik was jy daar. Dankbaar vir jou!,  witman ongeag jou kleur elke dag vir jare, myle en myle ver, het my gebabbel in die wind geloop soek na jou, tot jy my kon hoor, my roep in stile na jou. Jy het my gehoor jy het my kom gesoek en op n dag het jy my,  die malvrou uit kettings kom red, en die wereld gewys ek is net n Ovahimba vrou, vasgevang in my eie stiltes, ou jare se drome en tyd….

… her name was Ndjinaa         

 (freely translated – emdt.)

There is a storm brewing in my heart.

Like a Simpson;

I have a passion; a dream.

Then I see her,

An animal chained to the dust.

A heap of bones, shattered.

Wild eyed, the wind carry her troubled babble,

They laugh; they are scared,

The crazy old woman.

I look at her and in tired eyes

I hear her begging in a world of quiet and hurt.

We trade harsh words

Caring words

Soft words.

In me, you are captured.

Then finally,

Metal chains are cut.

Your broken body,

A trampled soul,

Eases into a sink bath on a dry earth.

Softly bathed in a world clothed with milk and honey,

Cradled around your body, meters of gold.

For a moment you are visible in tired eyes.

Thankful for you; white man!

Regardless of colour,

My babble were carried on the wind

Days, years… for miles and miles

It went to find you, white man.

You heard me,

You heard my silent cry for help.

You came looking for me

And then you came to save a crazy old woman in chains

And showed the world

An ordinary Ovahimba woman

Caught in her own silence,

In years of dreams and time gone by…

(If you have missed the story of Ndjinaa, please click here)