A support group for families of people with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and dementia has been set up at Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Attavar. The group, started with five members, has held two meetings, Mariella D'Souza, lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, KMC Hospital, told The Hindu.

Speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on dementia organised by KMC’s Department of Psychiatry and Manaswini-Thunga Institute of Psychiatry here on Friday, she said the group meets on Thursdays. It discusses providing care, emotional and social support, psychiatric help and the role of yoga to those who look after people with dementia.

Keshav Paik K., consultant psychiatrist and associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, KMC Hospital, said that on October 1, the hospital will begin a “Dementia Clinic” that will provide geriatric screening and medical evaluation and counselling to people who are aged 65 and above. It will be open every day. Staff from the hospital’s medical, psychiatric, physiotherapy and nursing wings will be part of the clinic. Ms. D’ Souza, in her talk on “Care giving is an art with a heart,” said that caregivers themselves may get stressed. They may get depression and other health problems, especially if they are seniors and have to look after a spouse with dementia. Some children do not treat them well because they think they were wronged by their parents earlier or because they think they have been discriminated against in getting property. Sometimes, the family members end up ill-treating the person with dementia, she said. Ravish Thunga, who heads Manaswini-Thunga Institute of Psychiatry and Counselling, spoke on the role of social workers and caregivers and the increase in the number of dementia cases.

Supriya Hegde (Aroor), associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, KMC Hospital, Mangalore, spoke on the clinical aspect of dementia and Sreemanthini, associate professor of Clinical Psychology, KMC, spoke on psychological and behavioural management of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Lingappa, a student of St. Philomena’s College, Puttur, said that he appreciated the session on role play, which highlighted the role of the social worker at a time when people sent their parents to old age homes. Someshwari, a student of the same college, said that she got to know more about Alzheimer’s Disease. Usha, a student of Mangalore University, said the seminar was an eye opener to those engaged in social work practices.

Keywords: dementia

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