Dementia: India needs a separate national programme, say experts

Age UK found that as of November, out of the 458,461 people with a recorded diagnosis of dementia, only 282,573 had a new care plan or at least one care plan review on record in the previous 12 months. My Medical Mantra talks to the experts and decodes the Indian scenario

Dementia: India needs a separate national programme, say experts

  • More than one in three people in England diagnosed with dementia are not getting the follow-up care they are entitled to, a charity has said.
  • The NHS specifies that everyone diagnosed with the condition should have an individual care plan that is reviewed at least once a year.

Speaking about the Indian scenario, Dr Avinash De Souza, consultant psychiatrist, psychotherapist and co-founder of Desousa Foundation said, “In India, there are a large number of people suffering from dementia. But, fortunately in India, families look after old people. That is why many of them get care and the relatives pay for the treatment. We have few day care centers in Mumbai which look after dementia patients. But, we do not have any long term rehabs.”

Sailesh Mishra, social activist and founder of NGO Silver Innings said, “The number of people with dementia is much higher in the western countries. In India, at presently estimated 4.3% of the elder population suffers from dementia. So, the number might be bigger but the percentage is lower. In western countries they have dementia strategy and a policy in place, where elder people get support from the government agencies. Here, it is luxury and the dementia care is only done by NGOs and organisations.

He added, “We are asking the government to make a dementia strategy. As, if we don’t have a plan now, the next 10 years will be difficult. We are optimistic about government taking appropriate measures regarding dementia.”

Dr Om Prakash, Assoc Professor, institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) tweeted

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain.

While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception