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Forget us not

Memory matters When it comes to lending a helping hand to people with Alzheimer’s

Memory matters When it comes to lending a helping hand to people with Alzheimer’s  

Raise a toast to mental health and join ALLAN MOSES RODRICKS in expressing solidarity to the cause on World Alzheimer’s Day

At some point or another, we’re all guilty of forgetting something. Be it an anniversary, a birthday, a special moment or even a person. But, while most of us are forgiven, there are plenty of people out there for whom memory is a serious nightmare.

On the eve of World Alzheimer’s Day, which is celebrated on September 21, MetroPlus remembers the forgetters and expresses solidarity with the efforts made to help people struggling with memory. This Sunday, Cubbon Park will host a gathering of a different kind. The Nightingales Medical Trust, that has been organising creative awareness campaigns, including a reverse walk, will bring together patients, caregivers, families and the public in a morning awareness walk. The programme will also host geriatric yoga for senior citizens. Forgotten rural games that will be mentally stimulating and help the people of Bengaluru understand and deal with dementia and its related diseases will be played.

Co-founders S. Premkumar Raja and Dr. Radha S. Murthy have been observing World Alzheimer’s Day since 2006 to raise awareness about the disease and sensitise the community on the importance of a necessary support system.

“Dementia is emerging as an epidemic now. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. What we can do is minimise the impact. That will be our focus. If someone is emotionally, socially and mentally active, some of the risk factors can be minimised,” explains Premkumar.

The idea is also to make Bengaluru a dementia-friendly city, he adds. “This Sunday’s initiative is part of a campaign to raise awareness, work towards building support systems, creating facilities for interventions and training family members on how to take care of people suffering from the disease and care givers on helping them.”

Sunday’s event will also include street plays in Cubbon Park apart from programmes to challenge the brain. “While we usually have a reverse walk, this walk is a forward move to fight Alzheimer’s. The geriatric yoga organised by NIMHANS and the effort to bring back ancient rural sports are also ways to sensitise the public.”

Dr. Radha points out that it is purely lack of awareness that people don’t relate to the disease.

“Medically, it is not identifiable and there is a stigma attached to it. Mental health should be given priority because most of the time we go for curative or physical aspects, but never mental. It should be part of the screening process. Most of the time, we don’t realise that depression can also lead to dementia. There are other factors too. It is very difficult if people don’t know.”

Since it is not reversible, the only step we can take is to bring down the risk factors, she explains. “In India, vascular dementia is on the rise which is mostly due to diabetes and hypertension. Once that is controlled or the lifestyle is changed, we can help reduce its effects.”

So how can the public help? Premkumar says they need people’s support for the movement.

“It is a very serious problem in the future. We most often attribute this problem to old age and we don’t take care of the victims. For creating awareness, we need support. Quite often, we see elders wandering without remembering who they are or where they’re from. The public can help by taking them to the nearest police station and uniting them with their families also by spreading the word on social media.”

Nightingales Medical Trust is also working on institutional help as well as provides services like memory clinics, day care centres, training and residential care centres.

Head over to Cubbon Park this Sunday, September 25, to be part of this service. After all, we cannot forget them. Call 42426565 or visit www.nightingaleseldercare.com for details.

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