Experts call for better societal care for dementia patients

Countries such as Netherlands and Canada have started separate dementia villages for people with dementia.

KOCHI: Effective public health intervention programmes for prevention and slowing down of cognitive decline and dementia and improving the lives of afflicted people were discussed at the ongoing international neurology summit organised by the Kerala Association of Neurologists (KAN) here.

Recent studies by WHO show that dementia, a range of progressive neurological illness characterised by deterioration in cognitive function beyond the bounds of normal ageing, has affected 5 crore people in the world. Among the elderly population above 60, five to eight per cent has dementia and out of its various forms, Alzheimer ’s disease constitute 60-70 per cent of cases.

“The patient’s gradual decline in memory, disorientation and inability to perform daily activities, years spent living with dementia and dying with it are deeply distressing for the family and near ones,” said Dr Joe Verghese, professor of neurology and chief of integrated divisions of cognitive and motor ageing and geriatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.

“The general picture in India is that the patient receives informal care from the family. Informal care is always inadequate. Besides, it is mentally and physically onerous for the carers. They also develop a series of psychological and related issues,” he said.

“Setting new standards and going beyond specialist care homes, countries like Netherlands and Canada have started separate dementia villages for people with dementia to offer personalised care,” Dr Verghese said.

An-Indo US team named Kerala-Einstein Study (KES) has been doing specialised and impactful research into Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in Kerala since 2008, he said.

Dr. V.G. Pradeep Kumar, senior consultant neurologist, Baby Memorial Hospital, said that lifestyle changes are pre-emptive measures one can follow to prevent or slow the cognitive decline and onset of dementia.

“Eat a healthy diet with more fruits, vegetables, fatty fish and nuts, do regular exercise, especially aerobic and exercises combining music, join for music and dance, get enough regular sleep and rest, remain socially engaged, quit smoking, avoid harmful use of alcohol, maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels,” he said.

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