Triple-S joins the Alzheimer’s Association in the launching of Dementia Friends, a program seeking to improve the quality of life of people with dementia

Receiving a dementia diagnosis—whether for yourself or a loved one—is a life-changing moment. Many questions and fears surface immediately: What will my future be like? How will I cope with this new reality? Will I have to depend on other people?

In Puerto Rico, adults over 65 are the fastest growing segment of the population and also the most vulnerable to different types of dementia, including that caused by Alzheimer’s disease. However, our society is not prepared to handle the challenges faced by this growing population or to provide them with the countless services that patients and their caregivers need.

An initiative to raise awareness

Faced with this reality, Triple-S, Dementia Friends Puerto Rico and the Alzheimer’s Association joined forces to launch the Dementia Friends initiative in the island. This initiative seeks to raise awareness among various sectors about the challenges of living with dementia or caring for a person who suffers from it, as well as how to help these people so that they can maintain greater independence and continue living in their communities.

The efforts are focused on coordinating and providing training workshops on how to recognize the symptoms of dementia and assist the person to carry out their daily tasks, whether in a physician’s office, in a government agency, the grocery store, the bank or in the community in general.

“This initiative aims to train us as a society so that we can support the independent life of patients with dementia symptoms for as many years as possible,” said Dr. José Novoa, Triple-S Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Novoa also explained that this promotes a higher quality of life for the patient and a more inclusive society, while avoiding overloading the health system.

The initiative will begin by training physicians who are part of the Triple-S network and the company’s employees, but will quickly extend to other segments, including the health system, non-profit organizations, government agencies and businesses, such as banks, grocery stores, and others that serve a high percentage of seniors.

“Dementia Friends emerged in England and has spread around the world.  Our goal is for Puerto Rico to be recognized as a Dementia Friendly country. And with partners such as Triple-S, we believe that we can reach many sectors of society,” said Ana Gratacós, program director in Puerto Rico and who is also vice president of the Puerto Rico Alzheimer’s Association and a member of the board of directors of the Ibero-American Alzheimer’s Federation (Alzheimer Iberoamérica).

Gratacós explained that the organizations and people who complete the workshop will receive a certification and a seal that identifies them as Dementia Friends. “We believe that the certification seal will serve to distinguish physicians’ offices, hospitals, grocery stores, banks and will attract a public seeking spaces in which people and families living with dementia can feel welcomed and not stigmatized,” Gratacos pointed out. 

Impact of dementia in Puerto Rico

According to Dr. Javier Parga, coordinator of the Healthy Aging Program and the Alzheimer’s Center of the Department of Health, the impact of dementia conditions in Puerto Rico is very serious, as it affects not only the patient, but also their caregivers.

There are an estimated 80,000 people living with dementia in the island, of which some 60,000 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the country.

Individuals, groups, businesses or communities interested in becoming certified can write to the following email address: careradvantage@ssspr.com or call 787-749-4949 ext. 8322700.