Healthy Mind in Healthy Body

The AfroAtenAs Project, in coordination with Dr. Adolfo Valhuerdi of the Provincial Directorate of Health, began in 2015 an extensive program of activities against Alzheimer’s and other dementias involving part of the population of the neighborhood that is at an age well advanced, space that gave many health benefits for these people and the management group involved.

On this journey, doctors and students from different specialties were incorporated, many treatments were applied and actions were planned that have been in force until 2020, when the program has been transformed to reach the most vulnerable.

Today the objective of the Community Experience is focused on:

  • Develop annually a program of solidarity, professional care and capacity building for vulnerable senior citizens, caregivers and the general population

Specific objectives

  1. Develop training workshops for caregivers and those interested in adequately caring for or living with an elderly person.
  2. Implement articulated solidarity actions for the benefit of participating actors, say in grandparents’ houses and circles

General activities

Run 3 meetings per week for the healthy mind in a healthy body program for the elderly in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood.
Promote a weekly meeting of specialized care for the elderly.
Run various inclusive activities once a month in the grandfather circles of the city.
Generate one week a month for the solidarity treatment of people with economic and social vulnerabilities.

Justification from the theoretical-methodological Foundation of Community Intervention:

“A healthy mind in a healthy body, for a better adult”. Academic Scenario for the acquisition of Knowledge, Skills and Values ​​in 1st and 2nd year students of the specialty of Social Work. Health Technology Subsidiary “Martyrs of November 27”

Approaching the individual and collective aging of the human being from a purely biological dimension and with a reductionist approach at the hospital level of health, would deprive the human being of the 21st century and henceforth of the saving and unique challenge of accepting that a better world is achievable with protagonists who comb gray hair, the walk is not so agile and the skin is not so smooth. We therefore start from the fact that our societies in America, Europe and parts of Asia and Africa are in the type III population aging group, where more than 15% of the country’s total population is 60 or older. In the specific case of Cuba and especially our Matanzas province, which is in fourth place in the nation with respect to population aging (18.4%), our decision-makers face dilemmas such as: If our citizens live longer, how to improve their quality of life? Will this volume of older adults give in to our family, health and social approaches?

Dementias and Alzheimer’s disease are frequent affections in the elderly (10 to 12% of the total of individuals of 65 years or more) and are characterized by the slow and progressive deterioration of the most complex brain functions (reasoning, memory, calculation , abstract thinking, etc.) with respect to a previous level of functionality and with sufficient severity to limit the normal development of the individual in the family and / or society. Studies of prevalence and incidence of dementia carried out at the national and provincial level express that dementias affect more than 160,000 people in Cuba and about 11,000 people in Matanzas with the consequent personal, family and social burden that this entails; for this reason, the Neuroscience Society in the province, in its Cuban Alzheimer Section (SCUAL- Provincial Chapter of Matanzas), has supported itself since 2004 by volunteers, patients, family members and health professionals in the shared effort to live with the demented individual in their different stages of the disease, minimizing the burden of the crucial caregiver and reducing the social stigma that these mental health disorders generate. As a parallel goal we have early detection of the onset of cognitive decline.

This aging population brings with it a high prevalence and incidence of Depression, suicidal ideation, attempted and completed suicide in older adults, which in 2014 reached a ratio of 10.4 Suicide / Completed Suicide in our province, above the national average and a suicide prevalence rate of 13.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, also above the country’s indicator.

The Municipality of Matanzas, with a total population of 159,272 inhabitants, was chosen to carry out an active investigation of:

  • Mild cognitive impairment.
  • Dementia.
  • Depression.
  • Suicidal ideation
  • other social determinants of mental and general health.

with the aim of actively intervening on the conditions detected in it.
Within the main municipality of the province, the area of ​​the “Carlos Verdugo” community polyclinic in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood was selected with a total population of 23,424 inhabitants, and within this, Circumscription no. 34, 40 and 41 that include the local offices 16 and 18.

The justification for this selection is given by the high suicide rate of these clinics, and the existing sociocultural characterization in the area as part of the “AfroAtenAs” sociocultural project and its “Callejón de la Tradiciones” space, which have been identified and evaluated systematic a tree of community problems and a true intervention from art and culture.

Instruments applied for active research.

  1. General Data Survey and personal and family pathological history.
  2. Survey of Housing Conditions and data of the cohabitants.
  3. Survey of economic income and past and present employment history.
  4. Pfeiffer’s cognitive impairment and dementia survey.
  5. Yesavage Geriatric Depression Scale.
  6. Depression Scale current and generally (IDERE)
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