Awareness session held on 11 July 2012 at the GB meeting of Hyderabad chapter of CSIR Pensioner's Welfare Association, at NGRI campus, Uppal, Hyderabad

A general awareness session on Alzheimer's was conducted by ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan at the General Body meeting of the Hyd. Chapter of the CSIR Pensioner's Welfare Association (CPWA), held at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Uppal Road, Hyderabad on July 11, 2012. The title of the talk was "Memory in Health And Disease." It was well appreciated and many members of the CPWA actively interacted with Mrs. Rukhsana Ansari, Gen. Sec, ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan Adopting a power point presentation, the session started by explaining the importance of 'memory' by showing the comparative brain scan pictures of a normal & demented brain and there by defining Dimentia as a disease causing memory loss, by progressive degeneration of the of the brain that effects a person's emotional and behavioral characteristics reflecting on the day to day activities, eventually leading to Alzheimer's where there is total collapse of brain function. Other highlights included data from the Dementia India 2010 report that stated that Alzheirmer's disease is the fourth among the fatal life taking diseases in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a public health problem and WHO has recognized it as a Global Health Priority in 2012. As this is a disease of the old age, its prevalence increases as age advances and globally the elderly population Is increasing In India nearly 3.7 million people were affected by dementia in 2010 and the number is expected to double by 2030.

Various causes for dementia like stroke, alcoholism, head injury, Alzheirmer's disease etc were covered. The initial symptoms comprise loss of normal personal skills such as ability to read, write, communicate, sense of time etc. which typically progress further leading to more serious symptoms like lack of concentration, more forgetfulness, difficulty in calculations, anxiety, difficulty in routine daily tasks etc. The middle stage symptoms include hallucinations, suspicion, aggressiveness, insomnia, loss of communication, confusion, wandering, non-recognition of familiar faces, places etc.. The speaker emphasized that as the condition progresses, the physical, emotional and psychological stress of the care givers increases and hence it is important to give the caregiver the moral and physical support needed.

In India dementia care faces a unique challenge, due lack of awareness clubbed with multiplicity of lingual, regional and cultural difference. Nonetheless, it is possible to reduce the risk of memory loss by leading a healthy life style, control of age related conditions like BP, Diabetes, etc., engaging in active mental activities and physical exercises, learning new things and the like.

In conclusion Mrs. Rukhsana highlighted the activities of ARDSI and its collaborations with other governmental and non-governmental bodies, health and social welfare depts. She elucidated ARDSI's efforts in Dementia care viz., Memory Clinic for diagnosis, guidance and counseling etc, day care centres, home visits, Dementia care training for caregivers, volunteers, and health care professionals. Monthly theme based meetings which also facilitate experience sharing among caregivers, awareness sessions and memory screening camps.

The interaction that followed with the scientists was very encouraging.. Several attendees expressed a keen interest in becoming members of ARDSI, to be able to volunteer their services to the organization. Enthused by the response, CPWA has plans to arrange a mega awareness session for the three CSIR laboratories in the city, namely the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), NGRI, and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in the near future.