The dementia scourge in India and other countries – The need to spread awareness

According to recent reports, the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India or the ARDSI along with the NMT or Nightingales Medical Trust have planned to organise an awareness and training programme

According to recent reports, the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India or the ARDSI along with the NMT or Nightingales Medical Trust have planned to organise an awareness and training programme for the people who play the role of professional caregivers either to their own family members or to others who have been suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia for a long time.

If you take into account the statistics of India, you’ll find that Bengaluru is home to more than 15 lakh seniors among which 4%, around 40,000 suffer from some stage of dementia. The secretary of ARDSI Bengaluru, Mr. Premkumar Raja along with the co-founder of NMT spoke about the relevance and vitality of such awareness programmes. More and more people have to be made aware of this neurodegenerative disease which is taking a toll on the seniors.

Not only is the dementia scourge damaging India as a country but there are several other nations all over the globe like the US, UK and Australia where dementia is increasingly spoiling the lives of the seniors. After a certain stage of dementia, there arises a dire need for home caring without which it gets impossible for the seniors to live a life on their own.

A noble initiative taken by ARDSI

The noble initiative of spreading awareness was taken up by the ARDSI for the first time and it will begin in the month of June in Kasturinagar where they will have a separate awareness programme for the professional caregivers and the family members. The occupational therapists, mental health counselors and the physiotherapists are all included within this programme.

As per the initiative that is designed for the caregivers, the session continues for more than 18 hours for 3 days and this will primarily focus on the ways in which you can empathise with your family member or your patient, ways to handle the symptoms and identification of symptoms. On the other hand, for the family members, it will be carried out for 18 hours over a period of 6 days and this will include creating dementia awareness.

It is often believed that solving crossword puzzles or Sudoku can assist the person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s in tackling their mental health deterioration. However it could be doing anything that the patient loves to do. Hence, in this programme, the family members will be given a brief of the various ways in which they can keep their patient happily engaged in some activity. These tips will be offered by psychologist and team lead of dementia care at NMT, Shruthi Sivaraman.

Sivaraman also added that in foreign countries like the US, UK and Australia, people are able to diagnose dementia way before it reaches a serious stage and hence they’re automatically able to handle it in a better way. However, it is sad enough to note that in India, there are examples where patients, in spite of showing symptoms, their case is often ignored as a normal side-effect of aging. In India, most people confuse the symptoms of dementia with those of aging. Hence, if people are made aware of what dementia is, they could be successful in recognising it on time.

How to not let dementia attack you

Although there is still no cure for dementia, yet there are certain medicines and therapies which can halt the progression of the disease. Nevertheless, if you want to bring about few changes to your life so that you could ward off this disease of forgetfulness, here’s what you can do:

  • Bring about a change to your lifestyle where you curb stress and cut off bad habits like lack of sleep. Insomnia can lead to neuro-degeneration in human brain which can accelerate the process of memory loss.
  • Engage yourself in regular workout, try to stay active socially, quit drinking alcohol and smoking if you’ve been doing these for a long time now and start shifting to a healthy diet which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in levels of cholesterol.
  • Do you know anyone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s? If you do, choose to give them a GPRS enabled device like a bracelet or a locket or a watch. In case they go missing during their daily evening walk session due to loss of memory, you can easily bring them back home.

Spreading the word among more seniors

The Bengaluru ARDSI has also planned to conduct a dementia awareness campaign and they have named it as Dementia Friends. Such a campaign is being held in this country for the very first time. After people participate in this campaign, they will bag pocket certificates for playing the role of a ‘Friend of Dementia’. This specific group is also thinking of spreading awareness among corporate employees and students. It is important to create a specific awareness on such mental health disorders so that people can help all those who are suffering from dementia.

Decline in mental health is linked with loneliness

Aging is largely linked with cognitive, mental health and physical health decline. According to a new study, there are several researchers who analysed the way in which several other factors like loneliness, wisdom and quality of sleep can have a direct impact on the mental and physical functioning of older people. A new team of researchers found out that physical health is constantly linked with mental health and cognitive functioning. Cognitive functioning was significantly linked with wisdom, physical mobility and with satisfaction with life. Mental health was linked with self-compassion, optimism, disturbances in sleep, low level of loneliness and low income.

With the proliferation and gaining momentum of dementia day carecommunities, such organizations are promoting health among the seniors. As per researchers, majority focus on the risk factors of the disease like unhealthy diet, old age and dearth of activity. Though we can’t deny that these aren’t important but it is vital to focus on areas which constitute the person. There are psychological traits like resilience, optimism, wisdom and self-compassion were seen to be protective and loneliness seemed to be the biggest risk factor. An 85 year old will be able to function better than a 65 year old due to protecting the risk factors.

Research reveals that the seniors don’t always receive the support that is required from the younger members of the family who are supposed to play the role of caregivers. The younger people in the family also have several other responsibilities to perform – they have their jobs, they have their children. Hence, the seniors are often left with the choice of staying back at home and feeling lonely as against moving out to a senior housing system which is much more socially engaging. This later on becomes a complex decision to make due to the financial implications of a senior housing.

Seniors who live in continuing care senior housing facilities, the costs keep soaring higher as the residents gradually transition to better assisted living communities. Caregivers should try to delay such transitions by encouraging longer independent living and this should be a vital goal for health care. The findings of the researchers throw light on the area which focuses on the seniors and help them lead an enriched life. 114 residents took part in the study and they had an average age of 84. Among them 68% were female, 70% had a college education, 43% were married and 74% reported having an annual income which surpassed 3 lakhs.

Common mental health disorders among the elderly – Watch out for the symptoms

If you have an elderly family member in your life who is being suspected of suffering from any mental illness, you needn’t worry as it is all too common. As per recent reports, more than 35% of adults aged 56 years or more have suffered from some kind of mental health concern but only 2 out of 4 received any kind of treatment. Mental health illness is often overlooked among the seniors as diagnosing it is a challenge. Here is a list of the mental health issues which are common among the elderly people.

Statistics of mental health among the elderly generation

As per the WHO or the World Health Organization, around 18% of the population above the age of 60 suffers from mental health disorders and this number is expected to increase considerably as people age. Depression has an impact on 5% of the senior adults but this number jumps to more than 14% for those who are in need of healthcare at home. Men above the age of 75 usually have a higher rate of committing suicides as compared to any other age group.

The mental health disorders common among seniors


Depression is one of the most common types of mood disorder which is said to be one of the most common mental health concerns among the adults. If depression is left untreated, this can lead to mental impairments and can damage the way you function socially. Moreover, depression can also interfere with symptoms and with the treatment of other chronic health issues. Problems while sleeping, constant sadness, physical discomfort or pain, withdrawal from activities which you once enjoyed are few of the symptoms of depression.


The patient will also suffer from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia are becoming too prevalent among the seniors. The underlying psychological and behavioral issues which lead to such eating disorders often remain undiagnosed for a long period of time thereby making it specifically dangerous. The underlying factors for eating disorders are change in smell and taste, psychological problems since youth, loss of a loved one, cognitive decline, depression and other attention-seeking behavior.


Maniac depressive disorders and bipolar disorders are usually marked by sudden shift in mood and these are usually wrongly diagnosed among the seniors due to the symptoms which are common with aging. The symptoms of aging are often common with bipolar disorder and hence these symptoms go undiagnosed. Agitation, confusion, hyperactivity, irritability, psychosis and cognitive issues are few of the signs of bipolar disorder.


The impact of generalized anxiety includes constant fear or worry which gradually worsens with time. These symptoms usually interfere with your performance in your job, socialization and regular activities. The seniors who suffer from anxiety usually become more reclusive and withdrawn.

If you suffer from disorders like fear or palpitation or rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking or difficulty in breathing, these are signs of panic disorder. PTSD is a disorder which occurs soon after a traumatic event which threatens the survival of a person thereby impacting his qualify of life.


Neurodegenerative disorders like dementia are also common among the elderly above 65 years of age. It is sad enough to note that due to the fact that the symptoms of dementia are also common with normal aging, they are often left untreated. Dementia comes in 7 stages wherein the last stage, the patient is unable to recognize his family members like his son, daughter, grandchildren and even spouse.

They often forget their own names and need assistance to complete every single task which they previously did on their own. Dementia needs to be detected early so as to be diagnosed properly and hence if you know someone who is suffering from this disease; you should immediately take him to a mental health counselor.

Old age is that stage of life where you’re supposed to spend your golden years with your grandchildren and live on your retirement funds. However, with old age come diseases and disorders.

The above mentioned diseases are a few among the many that may occur on you. Therefore, if you live in a family where there is someone suffering from any kind of mental health disorder, you should never neglect him. Fix an appointment with a mental health counselor and get him treated so that you can cure things before they worsen.

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