Dementia is a disease of the brain characterized by progressive deterioration in brain function including memory, learning, orientation, language, comprehension and judgment. The irreversible decline in intellectual and physical functioning affects the person with dementia and causes significant distress to their family and carers.
Moreover, dementia is not merely a problem of memory. It reduces the ability to learn, reason, retain or recall past experience and there is also loss of patterns of thoughts, feelings and activities. Dementia also results in a progressive decline of cognitive abilities, poor self-healthcare, physical dependency, wandering, aggression and difficult behaviours.
> The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2025 about 75% of the estimated 1.2 billion people aged 60 years and above will reside in developing countries.
> As per estimates made in the World Alzheimer Report 2015, over 4.2 million people in India are affected by Dementia.
There is no one test to determine if someone has dementia. Doctors diagnose Alzheimer's and other types of dementia based on a careful medical history, brain scans, laboratory tests, and the characteristic changes in thinking, day-to-day function and behavior associated with each type.
Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists — doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system — often make the assessment to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia through appropriate assessment.
Considering the COVID situation where vulnerable Senior Citizens may not be in a position to visit a specialist for a consultation, the Bangalore Chapter of ARDSI has created DemClinic - An online portal to video consult with a select panel of Dementia specialists to check for Dementia and other memory problems.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia is life-altering for both the person living with the disease and his / her family. As a primary care provider, you play an important part in providing support to the person who has been diagnosed. Along the way, you will need the support of others, too.
Once you’ve identified trusted friends or family members, be specific about how you would like to engage their support. This can be assistance with transportation to or from medical appointments, help with social outings or simply having someone to talk with. There are also community programs, support groups and online social networks that provide the opportunity to learn from others who have a friend or family member with dementia.
But on the long term, professional help too will become necessary. Different kind of services are available in India for persons with Dementia, ranging from Day Care to home-based care to full-time residential care.
On the DemClinic Directory, we have curated a list of certified care providers for the convenience of persons with Dementia and their families.