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World Alzheimers Day

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21st September is observed as World Alzheimer’s Day. Senior Citizens’ Association of Raheja Vihar, Chandivali took this opportunity to create awareness of dementia amongst the residents of Raheja Vihar. Dr. Keerthic Sreevathsow, resident of Raheja Vihar is a renowned psychiatrist. He has been a practising psychiatrist for fourteen years. He is associated with best known hospitals in Mumbai. Dr. Sreevathsow’s areas of specializing include geodetic psychiatry and patients of alcohol and drug abuse.

Over seventy members walked in and seated themselves in the basement Hall of Raheja Vihar Club House. Apprehension and anxiety was clearly written on their faces. The subject ‘Dementia’ had attracted the crowd. Some had come with pre-knowledge of dementia and Alzheimer’s and some with myths and fears related to dementia. Dr. Sreevathsow made an exhaustive and  an informative presentation on ‘What is Dementia?’. The meaning of dementia was conveyed in very simple words. It was explained that Dementia is the disease of the brain in elderly people. It begins with loss of memory, difficulty in finding the right word for everyday objects and change in behaviour. Mild symptoms may be natural effect of ageing, but in dementia a pattern of problem emerges over a period of time. As dementia progresses the patient may routinely forget recent events, appointments, names and faces and have difficulty in understanding what is being said and become confused in handling money.

The presentation showed images of human brain. It very clearly illustrated the changes in the functioning of the brain.

Dr. Sreevathsow further simplified the apprehensions about brain diseases. He explained that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are often used interchangeably as many people believe that one means the other. In fact, the distinction between the two diseases often causes confusion in  patients, families and caregivers. Discover how the two diagnoses, while related, are remarkably different.

 While answering the queries put forth by the members, Dr. Sreevathsow gave detail information about the mental illnesses. He clarified that Alzheimer’s and dementia are still a mystery in many ways. This is why the two similar diseases are often mixed up in every day conversation and understanding. Dementia is a brain disorder that affects communication and performance of daily activities and Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language.

The explanation went on to reveal that dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms including impaired thinking and memory. It is a term that is often associated with the cognitive decline of aging. However, Doctor said that issues other than Alzheimer’s can cause dementia. Other common causes of dementia are Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

 Another major difference between the two is that Alzheimer’s is not a reversible disease. It is degenerative and incurable at this time. Some forms of dementia, such as a drug interaction or a vitamin deficiency, are actually reversible or temporary. Once a cause of dementia is found, appropriate treatment and counselling can begin. Until a proper diagnosis is made, the best approach to any dementia is engagement, communication and loving care Doctor gave a friendly message to seniors to keep themselves healthy, happy and positive to maintain emotional balance.

The committed, simple and approachable Dr. Sreevathsow wiped off the anxieties and curiosities of the seniors with his mastery on the subject. ‘One Minute Test’ for screening of dementia was the added attraction of the day. Even with the dilemma ‘to take or not to take’ the test, many took the test to overcome the curiosity.

The two hour session with Dr. Sreevathsow was enlightening and encouraging for the seniors. Everybody present had a word of praise for Dr. Sreevathsow for fruitfully spending the evening with them. The session was concluded with hot samosas and chai!