General awareness on Memory in Healthy Ageing and Disease

ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan Chapter conducted an awareness session at the Saket Pranaam, A.S.Raonagar, at Secunderabad on 28th April, 2012 attended by 40 members. Dr. K. Chandrasekhar (Vice- President, ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan and Director, Division of Neuropsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry at Asha Hospitals, Hyderabad), gave a presentation on Memory in Healthy Ageing and Disease.
Mr.S.Padmanabhan[General Manager, Saket Pranam] commenced the session with an introduction of the speakers.

Dr. Chandrasekhar spoke at length about the current scenario of aged population in India and how significant improvements in health and longevity among the elderly are leading to increased percentages of ageing population and rates of old age dependency. The process of ageing is universal and is degenerative in nature. He also explained about biological changes that accompany ageing, like changes in the skin, hormonal changes (decreased production of growth hormone), and neurological changes (decreased cerebral blood flow and brain weight), etc.

Dementia is more common among older people. It can be caused by a number of factors which lead to changes in the brain, ultimately resulting in the loss of nerve cells (neurons) which carry messages in the brain and are responsible for storing memories. He spoke about the symptoms of dementia and highlighted the difference between dementia and normal forgetfulness.

He emphasized on the need for Caregivers to develop skills to manage challenging behavior and communicating with the patients.

The audience was given an overview of what is dementia, the problems faced by persons with dementia, the progression of the disease and the importance of early detection and intervention. The concerns of the senior citizens were addressed by explaining the difference between normal and abnormal forgetfulness, and the early signs of dementia. Dr Chandrasekhar enumerated the early stage symptoms such as forgetting names of close relatives, language problems such as losing track of threads in a conversation, inability to sequence steps, loss of logical thinking etc.

Risk factors in dementia can be reduced by maintaining healthy life style, healthy nutrition inclusive of e fruits and vegetables, physical exercise, and mental activities to keep brain active. For Ex. puzzles, reading, playing chess..etc. It is also important to maintain a socially active life and stay stress free.

Later,Ms. Safiya Fathima, Psychologist and coordinator, ARDSI Hyd Deccan gave an overview of ARDSI - a national organization, its inception and the role it has played both at the government sector and in the society at large. She highlighted ARDSI's achievements over the years and also spoke about how the Hyderabad Deccan chapter came into being. She then spoke about the local chapter's goals which are primarily to improve quality of life of persons with dementia and their caregivers, creating awareness in the society and hence making Hyderabad a dementia-friendly city. She then highlighted the activities that included conducting monthly caregiver meetings, training programs, counseling sessions, home visits, memory walk, and running an activity centre for persons with dementia. She invited the audience to join as members and actively participate in ARDSI, Hyderabad's volunteer work.

The audience listened to both speakers with rapt attention and asked questions regarding the disease and its treatment. Some of them had concerns about their memory that were answered by Dr.Chandrasekhar. Brochures, pamphlets and informative material regarding dementia, normal forgetfulness and aging were also distributed.