Caregiver's Meeting on "What is Dementia?"

Topic: What is Dementia?
Facilitator: Dr.SuvarnaAlladi, Neurologist, NIMS
Date: 31st July, 2013
Place: Conference Hall, NIMS hospital, Hyderabad
Time: 4:00 - 5.45 p.m.

  • The meeting commenced at 4.00pm and was attended by 31 people constituting caregivers and volunteers.
  • The movie 'Burden of Love' was screened after which Ms.SaadiyaHurzuk explained the concept of 'Memory Boxes' to the audience with the help of a video.
  • At 4.30pm Dr.SuvarnaAlladi, Neurologist, NIMS began the talk on 'What is Dementia?'
  • Dr.Suvarna commenced the talk with a brief introduction to ARDSI and the work done by ARDSI so far.
  • In her talk, Dr.Suvarna covered various topics like the different kinds of memory, about the difference between a normal brain and a brain affected by dementia, the different kinds of dementia and their incidence in a population, and the different stages of dementia.
  • After the presentation Dr.Suvarna opened up the talk for questions from the audience.
  • Mr.Radhakrishnamurthy asked about how one can distinguish between normal forgetting and forgetting as a symptom of dementia. Dr.Suvarna explained the concept of 'worried well' and gave various examples of normal forgetting and forgetting as a symptom of dementia to establish the difference between the two.
  • Ms.AnjuBaldeva, a caregiver, enquired about how to handle her kin who is constantly reliving a traumatic event that had happened in her past and can only talk about that phase of her life. Dr.Suvarna explained how one should follow 'validation therapy' with people affected with dementia in which whatever phases of life and emotions the patient is going through are validated. She encouraged caregivers to not dismiss the patients' thoughts and beliefs, no matter how unreal they may seem. She also spoke of distraction as a tool to subdue negative emotions in such a situation.
  • Mr. Krishna Rao asked about the correlation between diabetes and dementia. Dr.Suvarna stated that while diabetes by itself does not cause dementia, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a stroke which could further lead to dementia.
  • Mr. C. M. NarasimhaRaju expressed concern about several instances of forgetfulness that he had noticed in himself lately and enquired if these could be symptoms of dementia. Dr.Suvarna spoke of the relationship between stress and forgetfulness. She explored the different instances of forgetfulness in Mr.Raju and dismissed his fears of having dementia. She also encouraged him to come by to get tested in case these fears were causing him too much anxiety.
  • Dr.Rama, a caregiver, asked about the increase in hallucinations in her mother-in-law who was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia. She gave a detailed list of all the different medications with their dosages to the doctor. Dr.Suvarna asked her to come for a consultation with her so that she could look at her mother-in-law's scans before commenting.
  • Ms.Lata, a caregiver, spoke about her father who was experiencing more severe symptoms during the evenings. Dr.Suvarna explained the phenomenon known as 'sundowning' where the dementia patients symptoms get more agitated during the time of sunset. Ms.Lata further wanted some clarification on some medications that she is giving her father. This led to a brief discussion among the caregivers about medications and their right dosages. Dr.Suvarna encouraged caregivers to discuss their problems with each other more often so that they could be of support to each other and learn from one another.
  • Ms.Satyavati gave the group some information on 'Brahmi' and 'Saraswathi' plants which she stated help boost one's memory and can be used as a cure for dementia. She reported that she had conducted some research on the same and requested Dr.Suvarna to vouch for the efficacy of these natural drugs. Dr.Suvarna explained to her how she could not support such claims without standardized research findings that support the same. This led to a discussion on the efficacy of home remedies and how allopathy had substituted them steadily over time.
  • The meeting was concluded at 5.45pm with the audience thanking Dr.Suvarna for all the information she had provided.