Dementia screening eyed for Cebu City seniors

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TO PROVIDE further benefits to the senior citizens in Cebu City, the Cebu City Council has approved a measure that would help the senior citizen’s mental health.

The Council approved the ordinance entitled “Dementia Screening and Intervention Programs for Senior Citizens of Cebu City” last Sept. 21, 2020, which was authored by Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon.

Dementia, as defined in the ordinance, refers to several diseases affecting memory, other cognitive abilities, and behavior that interfere significantly with a person’s ability to maintain their activities of daily living.

All senior citizens in Cebu City can avail of the program, but preference is given to indigent senior citizens given the physical frailties and economic condition.

There are around 82,000 senior citizens in the city.

In availing the free dementia screening, the guardian of the senior citizen must give prior consent, either verbal or written, before the senior citizen will be subjected to screening or cognitive assessment by a facility accredited by the Department of Health (DOH).

The senior citizens who want to undergo the screening must present their Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA) identification card upon securing a referral slip from the OSCA.

The referral slip will be presented to the DOH-accredited facility.

Should the senior citizen cannot personally secure a referral slip, a representative can get it for them providing the senior citizen must present the senior citizen’s OSCA ID.

If the senior citizen will be found to have symptoms of dementia, the beneficiary has the option to avail of the intervention programs to be provided by the City Health Department (CHD), OSCA, and the barangay where the senior citizens live.

In the formulation and development of the intervention programs, the CHD and OSCA are directed to coordinate with other government agencies, groups, organizations, academe, and non-government agencies to provide comprehensive and holistic intervention programs to address dementia.

The CHD needs to create a special unit that would implement the program.

Cebu City Health officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones said there is already a doctor assigned to oversee the programs for the senior citizens.

He said the new program will only be added to the list of programs under the CHD.

The CHD and OSCA are the implementing offices of the ordinance and are tasked to formulate the implementing rules and regulations for effective implementation of the program.

The ordinance seeks to develop pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention programs for indigent senior citizens who are assessed to have signs and symptoms of dementia.

The measure also seeks to establish an awareness campaign in all the 80 barangays on understanding dementia as a public health concern and to integrate mental health care in the basic health services at the barangay level.

It also aims to capacitate the Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) to render basic mental health care services and provide caregiving training for family members and caregivers of a person with dementia.

The funds for the program will be appropriated for personnel included in the special unit; contract fee with the DOH-accredited facility; and for intervention programs for the senior citizens diagnosed with dementia.

The ordinance will take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), Dizon said dementia was recognized as a public health priority in 2017.

“It is high time that we take concrete actions at the local level to help address this mental health condition given that we have an aging population and consequently, cases of dementia will also increase,” said Dizon.

Ibones supports the measure, adding it would help the mental health of the senior citizens especially with the pandemic.

Ibones, though, has not received yet the copy of the approved ordinance.(JJL)


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