CHENNAI: Medical and nursing students in the city took out two rallies on Friday to mark World Alzheimer’s Day, which is observed on September 21 every year. The theme for this year is ‘No time to lose’.
Students and professors of Madras Medical College (MMC) and Stanley Medical College took out rallies in their respective areas. Secretary of the Madras chapter of Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India R. Sathianathan said 40 elders from HelpAge India, an organisation working with the elderly, and students from Janaki MGR College of Arts and Science for Women also participated in the rallies.
A short film ‘Burden of love’ made by pharmaceutical company Novartis was screened at several programmes as part of the Day. The MMC also screened a short film ‘Ninaithale marakkum’ about a son who learns rather late that his busy millionaire father is afflicted with dementia.
The college is launching a research project, ‘Reaching the unreached elderly through health workers’ from October 1. “Even people at home do not realise that the elderly are developing dementia. At later stages, it is difficult to intervene. We will train Corporation health workers to identify the elderly with cognitive impairment and refer them to psychologists for assessment,” Dr. Sathianathan said. HelpAge India will support the year-long research programme.
Initially, residents of Anna Nagar and Purasawalkam, Shenoy Nagar and Kilpauk area are expected to benefit. “This because the Society’s memory clinic is in Anna Nagar and we have trained some healthcare workers in Shenoy Nagar,” he said.
At Stanley Hospital, the Neurology Department has recruited 20 medical students as volunteers who will be trained in screening for early signs of dementia.
“In India, we commonly see vascular dementia mixed with Alzheimer’s disease,” said department head R. Lakshmi Narasimhan. “There are sudden changes such as not being sharp at routine work that they always did well, sudden bouts of anger, behavioural changes… for such people there is a one-minute screening test to assess verbal fluency and memory recall.”
At a function organised by Dignity Foundation, V. Gurumurthy, chairman of Epidemiology at Sri Ramachandra University, laid emphasis on physical exercise to improve one’s quality of life.
“Aerobics flush the system with oxygen. The six trillion cells in the body need oxygen and glucose,” Mr. Gurumurthy said.
“An athlete gets 25 times more blood for the muscles while working out”. he said, adding that a trained athlete consumes 5,000 cc of oxygen every minute while a person who never exercises consumes only 250 ml of oxygen.”
He urged the elders to maintain a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fresh fruits and avoid alcohol and tobacco in any form.
This would prevent early ageing of the brain, a process that causes Alzheimer’s disease, he said.