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many faces of the Hopi [Photo Credit: wikimedia commons]

In honor of the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, it’s essential to pause and consider the social fabrics that dictate our understanding and perception of the field of ageing. An article from Indian Countryon North American indigenous peoples’ reaction to dementia within their communities helps us learn from one another.

While Alzheimer’s occurs at about the same rate among older Native Americans/Alaska Natives as it does within the continental United States, the approach to treatment is unique.

David Maes, of Hopi/Apache descent, is establishing a nonprofit in Denver, Colorado called Taawa Energy Center (Taawa) – meaning “sun” in Hopi.  The center will care for elders living with dementia through an approach that seeks and uses ‘the essence of the person’ for healing.

His focus in treatment changes from management of disease to caring for the whole person. “Specialists think they are treating the whole person, but in fact they’re fragmenting the person,” says Maes.

There is something that everyone around the world can learn from the Native approach.  Native Americans do not share the stigma and ageism associated with caregiving to elders.  In fact, it is associated with normal aging in the Indian community.  The community shares their input and support, traditional healing practices and traditional medicine with the elderly.

Maes says “among aboriginal and Native people, those with dementia [of which Alzheimer’s is one form] are the spiritual people, beginning to leave this world to enter a world where everything is positive and good. There’s no judgment in that world.”

To read the full story, visit: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/07/23/native-approach-to-dementia-stresses-human-spirit-124684#ixzz234x1rUBr  

Older adults are subject to discrimination world wide. As the global population ages, this trend will only grow larger. The United Nations has produced a report titled, Strengthening Older People’s Rights: Towards a UN Convention. The goal is to create a UN Convention for older people, therefore helping protect our elders globally.

Find out what you can do to help the cause.

The United Nations (UN) has been putting forward initiatives to aid older persons globally. Non-Governmental Organizations are working to make sure the UN continues this focus.

Recently IAHSA and other civil society organizations sent a letter to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, applauding their efforts and championing the continuation of quality programs.

From the letter: In closing we commend UN DESA formaintaining the rights of older people on the agenda in an era of unprecedented social and economic change. As committed members of civil society we believe that our contribution and partnership is a strength that can facilitate engagement through our extraordinary networks.

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at iahsa@leadingage.org.

Authors

Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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