Sunday, April 1, 2012


Bringing spring back in the autumn 

You could call it the autumnal home, providing as it does shelter and care to those in the twilight of their lives by cushioning the impact of the ill-effects of old age disorders like Alzheimer's and dementia. The efforts of the Nightingale Centre for Ageing and Alzheimer's, RT Nagar, in treating seniors diagnosed with dementia has now drawn applause from the Foundation Mederic Alzheimer and Alzheimer's Disease International London

The centre is the brainchild of the NGO, theNightingales Medical Trust, which has floated multiple projects targeted at the old. Every day over 800 senior citizens benefit from the trust's different projects which address the various needs of the aged - be it financial independence or healthcare. Home Health Care is for those who have difficulty in visiting hospitals. Enrichment and Day Care Centres mitigate their loneliness and depression. Elders Helpline addresses any abuse. Jobs 60+ provides training and promotes employment opportunities among non-pensioners. 

A comprehensive dementia care centre, Mobile Medicare targeted at those living in rural areas and lifesaving services that creates a community of lifesavers trained in cardio pulmonary resuscitation are among the other major endeavours of the trust. Said Dr Radha S Murthy, managing trustee: "As most elders prefer living with their kids at home, family-based support systems alone could address the challenges faced by them effectively. But India very much lacks in such facilities. It is high time the policy-makers promoted such support systems." 

Demand for the trust's services are growing. "Some of our projects are being replicated in other parts of the country. Various state governments and the Centre have recognized our efforts. Our vision of 'Happy and Healthy Elders living in their Homes with Dignity' has been realized to a great extent," said S Prem Kumar Raja, trustee and honorary secretary of the trust. 

In India, the ranks of the aged are swelling with better healthcare facilities. The population of senior citizens is estimated to be 100 million. Though old age homes are considered to be the only solution to their problems, the fact is they could be the last resort for the destitute and the issueless. The trust is trying to provide the comfort and warmth of home to senior citizens. 

"Psychological/non-pharmacological approach is a significant feature of the centre. Instead of medication which has potent side effects, we rely more on alternative therapies," said Dr Soumya Hegde, consultant, geriatric psychiatrist. 

"We have pet therapy, snoozing therapy and intense activity schedule. We take patients around the garden in a wheelchair and make them hear chirp of birds, talk to them about flowers and fruits. This improves their communication skills and helps them open up their mind," she said. The centre stands on a piece of land allotted by the Karnataka government. Nightingales has been authorized to issue ID cards for senior citizens. Nightingales is partnering with the Bangalore city police in running Elders Helpline and with BBMP for Sandhya Kirana, a day care centre for economically disadvantaged elders. 

The National Institute of Social Defence, an institution of the Union ministry of social justice & empowerment, is collaborating with Nightingales in organizing various training programmes for age care. 

Beneficiaries a happy lot 

My mother (91) suddenly began showing symptoms of dementia in January 2010. She used to become violent and abusive. No medication helped. In fact, she suffered several side-effects. We were then referred to the Nightingale's trust by a relative. She was admitted there in November 2010 and has improved tremendously. All her aggression disappeared and her health has improved. When my family members and I go to meet her she gives us a hug. The trust charges fee for treatment, but it is nominal compared to the care they give to patients. 

V M Venkatrajan (71) | jayanagar iv block 

I retired about 15 years ago. As I was employed in a private firm, I did not get any pension. With increased inflation, it was becoming difficult for my family to survive. I heard about 

the Job 60+ project of Nightingale's and decided to join it. I was trained in computer programming. Now, I work with a firm in National Games Village for five days a month and earn about Rs 2,000. My age does not permit me to work full time, but this education has come in handy for me. 

Chandrashekhar Gupta (72) | vijaynagar
20, DESCANSO, APRT 1321,

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