'Keep Alzheimer's patients physically, mentally engaged'

Doctors, care givers, social workers join hands to form support group

'Keep Alzheimer's patients physically, mentally engaged'

“Alzheimer’s is a degenerated non-curable disease. The only option to cope with an Alzheimer’s patient in the family is to accept them as such and to keep them totally engaged--both mentally and physically” -- was the conclusion at which doctors, care givers and psychologists arrived at a meeting here, organised by Spandhana Charitable Trust on Tuesday bringing all stakeholders of the disease to form a support group. 

Richard Shreder, an Alzheimer’s specialist from USA, said that often the care giver is more the victim of the disease than the patient. 

“We can change the behavior of the patient by understanding and accepting them as they are. The patients will repeat the same thing over and over. If they ask for food just minutes after taking meal, don’t say that you had food just now but give them more food. Otherwise, they will get irritated and it will lead to depression and chaos in the family,” he cautioned.

Shreder explained that an Alzheimer’s patient never fakes or bluffs on his or her words though it appears to be so for others. 

Early diagnosis important

Addressing the gathering, KMC (Geriatric Care) Professor Dr Prabha Adhikari exhorted that making the patients engage is the best way to deal with them. 

“Half an hour aerobic exercise daily, Yoga, jogging, walking anything will serve. Along with this, intellectual exercise will make them fully busy. The purpose is to activate their every part of the brain,” she told. 

Prof Adhikari reminded that it is crucial to detect the disease at an early stage. “When we find that the forgetfulness and absent mind of our dear one was not because of aging but it is Alzheimer’s, precious time would have been lost,” she pointed. 

Dementia, Alzheimer’s

Psychiatrist Dr Ravish Thunga said that not all Dementia are Alzheimer’s but Alzheimer’s is a kind of Dementia. “In Alzheimer’s dementia you forget the whole context of the incident whereas in normal forgetfulness, which might be because of aging, you forget the particular event only,” he explained. An Alzheimer’s patient can recollect what happened years ago, but unable to remember what happened a few days, weeks or hours before. Psychiatrist Dr Sateesh Rao said that by keeping several risk factors such as diabetes, hyper tension etc in control, one can keep away 50 percent of dementia. 

“Medical sciences cannot help the other 50 per cent for it is a genetic disease,” he said and added that dementia other than Alzheimer’s can be treated or preventable but not curable. Spandhana Charitable Trust Managing Trustee Jerardin D'Souza, Dr Olinda Pereira (Vishwas, home for the elders) among others spoke. The meeting was followed by an interaction. 

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