Few facilities for dementia care in Kerala

Approximately 2 lakh people in Kerala suffer from dementia.   | Photo Credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON

: When R.K. Panicker returned from New Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram in 2013, along with his wife, Anandam, after long years of Central Government service, the couple looked forward to a relaxed life, travelling and visiting friends and family.

But fate had other plans for them.

“Today, when I wake up in the morning, I have only one thing to ask of the almighty… please keep me alive and healthy so that I can care for my wife till her end.” Mr. Panicker says.

His wife suffers from Frontotemporal dementia, a less common type of dementia, wherein the person’s behaviour and personality progressively changes and all communication skills are lost. In the later stages, the symptoms are not very different from Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately two lakh people in Kerala have dementia. According to studies, an estimated four per cent of those above 55 years in the State have some form of dementia.

There is increased awareness about dementia in recent years, but there are few care facilities in the State or trained care-givers to give the much needed support and advice to families to care for their loved ones lost to dementia.

In 2014, for the first time, the State government took cognizance that dementia care needed a specific care strategy, separate from general geriatric care.

The Kerala State Initiative on Dementia Care (SIDC) was launched by the Social Justice Department, with technical support from Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), with focus on establishing social support systems and care facilities for those with dementia.

A year later, a modest beginning has been made by starting a full-time care centre at Edvanakkad in Ernakulam and a day care centre in Guruvayur. However, none of the other components of SIDC — memory clinics in districts, creating a brigade of trained care-givers for dementia patients etc., — have moved forward.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2021 1:43:49 PM |

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