On a bright and sunny Sunday morning on September 12 2010, Hyderabadis woke up to find their city catapaulted to the preeminent position of becoming India’s first “Dementia friendly city”. Hundreds of Hyderabadis, from all walks of life, walked in solidarity for patients of dementia and their families, and for creating awareness of the disease. A palpable sense of camaraderie was evident as large numbers of people participated in the “We are our Memories” Memory Walk, organized by the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India-Hyderabad Deccan chapter and the Memory Clinic, Nizams Institute of Medical Sciences, on the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day.
Coming close on the heels of the Chief Minister’s message of the government extending support to create greater awareness of the disease by opening more memory clinics state-wide, and by making better provisions for care of patients, the walk was Hyderabad’s largest public event to raise awareness of the disease and to express support to patients and families.
It was difficult to judge whether the star of the show was the Chief Guest – prominent sports personality Gopichand Pullela, whose heart-felt message to support the cause resonated with the crowd, or the delighted school children – waving their Memory Walk placards and jostling to get to the beginning of the walk-lineup, or the earnest senior citizens whose pervasive presence made the walk a grand success.
The 2.6 km walk was flagged off at JalaVihar, by the guests of honour, Principal Secretary of Health, Dr. P.V.Ramesh, and GHMC Commissioner Dr. Sameer Sharma. The heterogenous composition of crowd – government officials, prominent neurologists and psychiatrists from the city’s leading hospitals NIMS, Asha Hospital, Gandhi Medical Hospital and Yashodha Hospital, families of patients with dementia, students, representatives from pharma companies, bikers groups, volunteers from NGOs, was a testimony to the fact that Hyderabad is definitely on its way to a dementia-aware society. 350-400 people thronged Necklace road in the blue-and-white Memory Walk T-shirts and the WAD themed-Dementia-Its time for Action badges, connecting with each other in a spirit of community support. Tthe walk culminated with a well-deserved breakfast for the walkers at the picturesque Vedika, sponsored by JalaVihar.
Notable highlights of the walk included launching of a mobile homecare van service by ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan, sponsored by the Mantha’s Reach Foundation and Dr. Jaydip Ray Chaudhuri and dedicated to all families, by a family, who lost their father to the disease – Dr. Vishnu, ARDSI’s first home-visit patient.
ARDSI Hyderabad Deccan gratefully acknowledges the support of all its partners –NIMS Memory Clinic, Asha Hospitals, Yashodha Hospitals, Gandhi Hospitals, AASARA GHMC, HelpAge, Pain Relief and Palliative Care Society and sponsorship of all who made the Memory Walk possible- Jala Vihar, Vyzin, Sun Pharma, Novartis, Eisai, Lundbeck, AMRI, Sloka School, and M.Anandam & Co.
We also sincerely thank the numerous individuals and volunteers without whose time and help we couldn’t have planned and executed the walk. We offer our grateful thanks to all participants whose enthusiasm buoyed the walk and to the patients and families whose indomitable spirit continues to inspire us, if not towards a cure, atleast towards providing a model of high-quality care to slow down the progression of the disease.
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