Aim of the group is to make the family accept the patient

A tourist’s chance visit to Mangalore and a meeting with a few Mangaloreans has led to the forming of a support group for all stakeholders of Alzheimer’s disease in the city. On Tuesday, a group of Mangalore residents including Olinda Pereira of Vishwas Trust, which provides care for the elderly, Ravish A. Thunga, consultant psychiatrist, Audrey Pinto, gerontologist, Roshni Nilaya, Prabha Adhikari, Professor of Medicine, Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Satheesh Rao, Head, Department of Psychiatry, K.S. Hegde Medical Academy (KSHEMA), Lavina Noronha, Director, Ave Maria Centre for Palliative Care and Hilda Albuquerque, Nympha Sadan, will hold the pre-launch meet to form the support group, called ‘Alzheimer’s Association’ for all stakeholders of the disease said Jerardin D’Souza, Managing Trustee, Spandhana We Care Charitable Trust and chief co-ordinator for the group.

He said it is to support the family, caregivers and doctors of the patient.

It all started with Richard Neal Shreder, an American tourist, who has worked for decades with seniors in his country and who happened to be in the city.

In the past six months, he said he talked to a few people in Mangalore who led him on to more people and soon the support group took shape. He said the main aim of the group would be to share techniques that will help support those affected by the person with the disease and the patient. He said, “We can’t change them but we can make it a little easier.”

He said people around the patient could be counselled and the aim of the group would be to get the family to accept the patient. The message to families was to ‘be gentle’ even though it requires a lot of patience.

Disagreeing does not help as it is frustrating to both patient and the family. “So stop disagreeing, stop trying to get the patient to remember. He won’t remember. Accept them as they are.”

Alzheimer’s disease can take seven years to surface and it is not known what causes it. After some time the patient may not be able to feed or dress themselves and may lose bladder control. “There is very little a doctor can do (for a person with AD) and for loved ones, especially the spouse, it can be a very painful,” he said.

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