Samvedna Senior Care has been conducting dementia support group meetings for families regularly for the past 5 years. As a part of our interactions we have come across many caregivers and heard their experience in handling their loved ones. Caring for an individual with dementia can be challenging and at times it can also be overwhelming. Frustration and stress is a normal and valid emotional response to many of the difficulties faced by a caregiver. While some irritation may be a part of everyday life as a caregiver, feeling extreme frustration can have serious consequences for the caregiver or the person they care for. It negatively impacts the caregiver’s physical health and may lead to some serious consequences.
This article is the first in our series on dementia care, written by Dr Jayashree Dasgupta, MPhil, PhD, Neuropsychology, NIMHANS.
What is Dementia ?
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms where there is a gradual death of brain cells that eventually lead to problems in thinking and behavior. There are many types of dementia and this is the leading cause of disability amongst the elderly. In fact, globally, there are about 50 million people with dementia and in India alone, there are over 4 million people with the disease. Staggeringly, one person develops dementia every 3 seconds which means 10 million new cases develop every year.
Samvedna Senior Care Foundation held it Dementia Support Group meeting for family members of persons with dementia on January 5th , 2019. The event was held at our senior centre in Gurgaon. Dr. Jayashree Dasgupta, MPhil, PhD, Neuropsychology, NIMHANS, presided over the meeting, the topic for this meeting was “Caregiver stress and coping strategies”.
As we age, our dependency and hence need requirement for support increases. Dependency can be physical, social, psychological, or/ and emotional and it can be even more critical if a senior develops any form of disease which has an impact on their cognitive abilities, for eg, dementia or any other related disorder. Under such circumstances, our elderly loved one needs a helping hand from a person with compassion and sensitivity to understand the disease and its related symptoms.
On 6th October 2018, we conducted our Support Group Meeting for caregivers of dementia patient. A large group of caregivers from in and around Gurgaon and Delhi came to attend the session. The main agenda of the session was to acknowledge the pain of caregivers and to help them in their needs. The topic of the session was “Dementia Management Impact of Social, Physical and Cognitive Interventions. The session was unlocked by Dr. Jayashree Dasgupta, MPhil, PhD, Neuropsychology, NIMHANS, who is the Project Director of Samvedna Senior Care.
Mr. Malhotra (name changed), a retired IAF officer, lives with his wife (55), who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 53. Mrs. Malhotra has always been an active and independent woman. She is a highly educated woman and was working as a scientist till a few years back. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and since then her disease has been progressing rapidly. Mr. Malhotra has been her primary caregiver. Mrs. Malhotra is suffering from some other ailments as well and requires monthly visits to the doctor for review. She is unable to manage her own medicines and gets really hassled every time she goes for a doctor’s review.
Marriage is a scared union between two people, where the couple vow to hold on to each other for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death separates them apart. But what happens when one of the loved one does not remember, not only the vows, but the spouse with whom he/she took the vows?
Mr. Sharma (name changed), a retired Grade A officer with one of the departments of the Government of India, now 78, lives with his wife in the home that they built after his retirement.
Mrs. Sharma has always been a home maker , and feels that she is now taking care of another child at home referring to her husband of 51 years. Mr. Sharma was diagnosed with dementia in late 2016, making Mrs. Sharma his primary care giver.
Dementia takes away the memories of our loved ones but they still need/deserve a good quality of life. The primary caregiver has to put in a lot of effort to provide them that quality of life which will benefit the elderly’s mental and physical condition. One can help them set up a routine, engage them with mind stimulation and encourage them to do physical exercises these will prove to be very beneficial for our loved ones.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies (LBD) is known known to be another major cause of Dementia. Being relatively less prevalent than Alzheimer’s, it has not typically attracted as much research in the past. However, LBD has been gaining interest in research and here we look at some of the more recent research findings when it comes of Lewy Bodies Dementia.