For four years, Wing Commander D.P. Sabarwal could not understand why his wife was being forgetful or restless. And then, after numerous visits to psychiatrists and general practitioners, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago.
As a caregiver, he shared his experience at Dementia 2018, an international symposium organised on Friday by Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI) and Nightingales Medical Trust. He said he faced multiple challenges while accepting that there was no cure for the disease. “Every six months, there were changes in her. Patients with Alzheimer’s first fail to recognise people, then are unable to talk and lose coordination. It was difficult to accept it. Once I accepted it, it became easier,” he said. According to him, the major challenge was when she stopped eating food and was dependent on a food pipe for eight months.
He has penned a book, titled Handling Alzheimer’s With Courage, for caregivers based on his experience. His wife passed away last year.
Many caregivers spoke on their experiences at the symposium. Meena Pattabiraman, chairperson of the ARDSI, said that only 10% of dementia cases are diagnosed. Radha S. Murthy, vice-chairperson, ARDSI, claimed that about four million people have dementia, and the number is expected to double by 2030. She said there was a need for countries to make dementia a global priority, reduce the stigma associated with it, and facilitate research.
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda said authorities were preparing an action plan on the strategy to tackle dementia. “This disease is related to longevity of life, and we want to ensure that people are able to lead a quality life,” he said. He also said the government was planning to provide free drugs and diagnostic facilities, and they would make it a part of the action plan.