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The Imam-Ali Alzheimer Charity Foundation

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran


Many of us, wherever we are, know of people, often near and dear to us, who suffer from Alzheimers.   With the help of modern medicine, people all over the world live well beyond the age their parents considered usual and normal.  There are some side effects; one of which is Alzheimers, where the brain stops functioning properly and memory loss follows.  I was doing some research for this piece when I learnt that every seven seconds one new patient is added to number of those who suffer from Alzheimers.



Many of you may not be aware that there is a modest foundation which cares for those who suffer from Alzheimers here in Tehran.  I was told about the place by my good friend Zari who is involved with several helpful organizations.  I went there one day late last month.



I found the place clean and tidy and I met a few patients who were there.  Patients can be brought to the day care center 3 times a week on even days from 9-4, although the center is open everyday.  Below I share with you my observations of my recent visit to The Imam-Ali Alzheimer Charity Foundation.



This foundation was formed four years ago, when a few good hearted individuals got together and established the Imam Ali Alzheimer Charity Foundation (IAACF) with the cooperation of the local municipality which kindly offered them premises in Ekbatan, a huge housing complex on the west side of Tehran near Mehrabad airport.



The foundation has been established, and registered under reference No. 3541.   IAACF was established in order to help those who suffer from Alzheimers as well as their families who care for them.  The organization has members who pay an annual fee, from 22000 rials and it is very active throughout the city despite its limited means. 



The center has about 700 patients registered with them.  I was told that there are several kind volunteer ladies who visit families with Alzheimers patients at their homes and give them help and guidance. There is also a nurse who visits registered members at home.  The center is desperate for a special vehicle as well as to find premises in the center of Tehran as they are now located in the west and many patients have to travel a long way with their carers to attend.  Because of the distance and cost of traveling, many of those who use the center are mainly from Ekbatan or nearby areas.



I learn there that the average cost of medication for Alzheimers patients runs to over 2,600,000 rials per month and the full cost may run to as much as 6,500,000 rials monthly, which is a heavy burden on any family budget. 



At IAACF, I was introduced to Ms Azam Haj-Yousofie who is a writer of childrens books and was in charge of public relations as well as being the editor of the center magazine titled Ghasedak – messenger - which will soon be offered at news stands for more exposure for the centers work and activities.   The center has translated and published many informative pamphlets and one book on Alzheimers which can be used by carers as well as one specially done for the police on how to deal with Alzheimer patients.  The center recommends bracelets with the patient’s illness and contact details which cannot easily be removed in order to save them from harm.



Ms. Haj-Yousofie informed me that they enjoy a good working relationship with many Tehran cultural centers associated with the Tehran Municipality.  Their activities include staging concerts and bazaars.  Last year the IAACF held a football match between Pas football club and a group of well known TV personalities and artists which was shown on one of TV channels, all these are to raise aware and collect donations for the running of the center.  There is only one salaried person and the rest are volunteers or semi volunteers and get paid if there are funds available.  Three specialized doctors work with the center, one on Sundays and two others on Tuesday afternoons.




My observations and recommendations


I found:

  • People working there were kind and polite even if a little formal.
  • The whole place was clean and tidy. 
  • I saw some exercise equipment but not many patients were there to use them. 
  • Overall I think this center does a great job as an information center and helps the family who care for these patients a lot. 

What needs to done:

  • Hire a few specialized minibuses to bring these patients who are registered with the center and some of whom are on wheelchairs, to the center on regular basis. 
  • Bring in more specialized doctors on volunteer basis or paid basis.
  • Hire some specialized nurses to come to the center more regularly and to visit more patients, more often, so that the center is better utilized.
  • Put patients who can not afford the expense medication on a list to receive this free of charge, on weekly basis.
  • Enhance the informative role of the center by having additional staff to update the website and increase their publications.
  • Supporters need to use their influence to ask authorities and other municipalities to offer similar centers around town, as there over 200,000 patients in the city. 



Their Tel/Fax is (+ 98 21) 44651122 and 44 630652 and if you wish to find out more, please visit their website


... Payvand News - 12/1/06 ... --

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