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Department of Occupational Therapy

Remember not to forget...

By Megan Ferguson

Posted on 30 September 2011



On Wednesday the 21st of September a group of Occupational Therapy students from the University of Pretoria, together with their lecturer, embarked on a journey to create awareness about Alzheimer's Disease.

Clad in gumboots and purple t-shirts, the group set out into the community of Mamelodi. We were certainly a site to behold. Our first stop was at the Bophelong Faith and Mission Church. Here, we were met by an inspiring group of elderly women. After a short discussion about Alzheimer’s Disease and the impact which it has on the people living with it, there was a time of prayer and an opportunity for us to join in praise and worship with this group of woman. Their rhythm, harmonies and passion moved each and every one of us felt privileged to be spending our morning with them. Slightly shy after the amazing soul which we had heard in these women’s voices, our group took the stage to perform the traditional items which we had prepared for the morning. We stomped our gumboots and shook our shakers as we sang African worship songs which I believe we will all remember for years to come! Each one of the women with us that morning had the opportunity to plant a small olive tree, Oleo Africana, as a symbol to always remember Alzheimer’s and show support to those who are suffering from it. The idea behind this was that the women would need to remember to water this plant so that it could grow into a tree! This tied in beautifully with our slogan for the day…Remember not to forget.

After an inspiring morning with a group of passionate elderly women working to create harmony and fellowship within their community, we made our way to MASCA Old Age Home. Here, we were encountered with a great deal more elderly people than we expected, many of whom are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. At this setting, it felt that our focus was more directed towards acknowledging those living with this disease, as opposed to educating them about it. A hall full of elderly people came to life as we all joined together in praise and worship; a memory which few of us will forget quickly. We then guided each person through the process of planting an Oleo Africana and handed out fruit. We were thankful to have enough plants and fruit for all.

It is working in the field that I have learnt the most about occupational therapy and myself. I think that I speak for all who were present on this memorable day when I say that we were inspired and honoured. I don’t think that we will soon forget this World Alzheimer’s Day; and I certainly don’t believe that we will forget those suffering from this illness and the impact which it can make to remember these people. So, just a reminder: World Alzheimer’s Day…21st September.

 


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