KOCHI: The caregivers of dementia patients spend an average 10.6 hours every day to take care of their loved ones, said Dr. Sridhar Vaitheswaran, consultant psychiatrist, Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF), Chennai. He was delivering a talk on ‘Integrating Research and Clinical Practice in Dementia – The SCARF Experience’ at Udbodh, the three-day international conference on Alzheimer’s disease that commenced at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) on Friday.
Dr. Sridhar Vaitheswaran said that the above finding was made in a three-month long study conducted by SCARF in three cities across the country, including Thrissur. “The purpose of the study was to identify the level burden of the caregivers of dementia patients. The average time spent by the caregiver a day is more than a fulltime job. Many of the caregivers have left their jobs to take care of their family members,” he said.
As part of the next phase of the study, SCARF is planning to study the role of humanoid robots in engaging dementia patients. “So far no such studies have been conducted in India. Many such studies conducted in Japan have proven that humanoid robots can play a great role in engaging dementia patients. A major challenge faced is engaging dementia patients in meaningful activities. We hope that humanoid robots can play a great role in this regard,” said Dr. Sridhar Vaitheswaran.
Speaking at the conference Dr. Hemant Bhargav, assistant professor of yoga, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), emphasized the role of yoga in treating early stages of dementia. “Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are more common in people suffering from early stages of dementia, which can be controlled by yoga practices. In elderly people, yoga has found to improve motor symptoms, reduce hypertension and improve quality of sleep and lifestyle,” he said.
As part of the conference a photo exhibition by Prof. Cathy Greenblat, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Rutgers University, USA, is also being held. Addressing the conference, she narrated the experiences she had while photographing dementia patients.
The conference is being organized by the Ernakulam District Administration and Prajna of the Centre for Neuroscience, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), in association with the National Health Mission (NHM), Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS), among others....