AASARA Public Awareness Session

ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan conducted an awareness session at GHMC on March 13, 3:30 PM, as part of the AASARA's monthly volunteers meeting. Informative brochures on "What is Dementia" in English/Telugu, warning signs of Alzheimers bookmarks and printed material on "Normal Forgetfulness in Aging vs Memory Loss Characteristics of Dementia" were distributed to the audience.

The meeting was attended by 70 volunteers, presided by Mr. Rangaiah Chowdhry and Mr. Sreenivasulu-Project Director AASARA, and chaired by Additional Commissioner Mr. KhannaBabu.

Mr. Sreenivasulu welcomed the audience and provided an AASARA update - AASARA has been registered as a charitable society, conducted a highly successful plastic surgery camp at Apollo Hospitals. There were several daycare center visits by AC and AASARA staff. The A.S.Rao Nagar daycare center's functioning was lauded and described as a model daycare center for others to emulate. The secretary of the center gave a brief update on the activities, funds and membership.

Dr. Chandrasekhar, Psychiatrist at Asha Hospitals and Vice-President, ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan, spoke on Healthy Aging -  Quality of Life factors in aging process. He thanked AASARA for giving ARDSI the oppurtunity to conduct an awareness session to an extremely relevant and interested  audience.

Good lifestyles when adopted lead to healthy aging. Positive lifestyle measures include - Healthy diet, organized way of doing tasks, and social connectivity. Old age can be thought of as the "Integrity vs Despair" stage of one's life.  Unlike knowledge which can be transmitted, the wisdom that senior citizens possess is something that cannot be transmitted. Healthy aging requires a detached but active concern for life.

Factors that negate the healthy againg process include loneliness and isolation.
Dr. Chandrasekhar also spoke on the two common problems in old age -
(1) Elderly Depression - manifesting itself as social withdrawal, decline in interests and hobbies is a 100% treatable condition
(2) Alzheimer's - a neurological, progressive, incurable  condition characterized by pathological forgetfulness. Warning signs include inability to recognize family members and friends, decline in language fluency, wandering, disorientation to place and time. This disease is characterized by an insidious onset and gradual deterioration over a period of 3-2 years. The constantly changing needs of the person eventually requires round-the-clock care in the advanced stages. It  places huge demands on the caregiver and is a serious burden to the family.

Early recognition of dementia is pivotal to providing appropriate care and improving quality of life of person and family. The benefits of early diagnosis  to the individual, family and society were elucidated. His talk concluded by urging the audience to volunteer and participate in ARDSI  by providing pragmatic care suggestions. He solicited AASARA's help in collaborating with ARDSI for its vision of havng a daycare center for persons with dementia.

Rukhsana Ansari, Secretary ARDSI Hyderabad, gave a powerpoint presentation, introducing ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan and services offered. She spoke about its founding, significant events in the short 4 month history, collaboration with AASARA for conductinng awareness sessions at senior citizens forums and training for intertesd volunteers.  Some of the services offered by the local chapter include awareness sessions, educative and caregivers literature in English and Telugu, counselling, home visits, monthly caregiver meetings., tarining for caregivers and volunteers The vision of the local chapter is to propagate a person-centered care approach and have a daycare center and respite center along the lines of that done by other chapters.

Dr. Chandrasekhar answered questions, regarding preventive measures, palliative and non-palliative measures for care,  from the audience.

Dr. Bharatendu Swain of Apollo Hospitals who conducted the Plastric Surgery camp  with AASARA's facilitation thanked the volunteers for their work in the camp. He appraised the audience about the camp, 92 surgeries were performed i n 3 days. 70% of the children wer from Hyderabad. He aksed volunteers not to rest on these laurels and take this initiative to the next level by having follow-up camps.

Mr. KhannaBabu, AC, in his concluding remarks,  mentioned ARDSI's efforts in addressing a social gap that was not previously addressed.

The meeting concluded with a Vote of Thanks by Dr. Vittal Rao.