Building dementia champions among us - My Take by Amrita Pimpale

September is World Alzheimer's Month and in My Take this week, Amrita Pimpale, founder of Echoing Healthy Ageing talks about why there is a need to build better support for dementia patients.
I got a close look at dementia and its effects when I was working as a project manager at a care home in the United Kingdom. I am an engineer with a management degree so I come from a very different background. But while working at the care home, I saw patients with different types of dementia and noticed similarities between them and my late grandmother. My father confirmed that my grandma did suffer from dementia but there was no treatment for her at that time, 20 years ago. I was shocked because there was so much happening in the UK and no awareness in India at all.

That is why I decided to start Echoing Healthy Ageing. Dementia is something like diabetes. There is no cure for it, but the person lives for 8-10 years with the illness. So maintaining quality of life is important. There are no initial signs and it progresses slowly and every stage needs different levels of support. We do that by telling family members and caregivers how this disease progresses and how they can meet their needs. We focus a lot of family caregivers because this is a complex disease with feelings of depression and anxiety. We tell them how they can do it effectively and take care of themselves so they don't get frustrated or tired. Our training also extends to hospitals where we work with nurses.

There are two ways in which we work. One is where social workers and psychologists conduct sessions in art and music therapy with the patients directly. This helps reduce anxiety levels, reduce loneliness and improve life quality. Then we offer group counseling to family members. We have a partnership with Holy Family Hospital in Bandra in Mumbai. Here we conduct a free group support session every month.

Ahead of World Alzheimer's Month, we are trying to get more people trained in dementia care in the community. We are approaching organizations to conduct awareness workshops, and train people to identify signs in their neighbourhood. We also have programs at care homes in Pune, Aurangabad and Mumbai.
About the Writer- Amrita Pimpale is the founder of Echoing Healthy Ageing. To be a part of the dementia awareness program, email or call 9167613665.

Watch in Sign Language