BENGALURU: Swathi Bhandari, senior manager, projects, is a post-graduate in social work. When she joined Nightingales Centre for Ageing and Alzheimer’s in Kasturinagar here in 2006, the only comprehensive residential home dedicated to dementia patients in the city, little did she know three years later, her mother would also show signs of dementia and will be admitted to the home Swathi works in.
Bengaluru is home to around 30,000 Alzheimer’s patients.
This is just an estimate as there have been no studies or census done to get the exact number. Yet, there aren’t many residential care homes exclusively dedicated to dementia patients. Though there are homes which get grants from the department of social justice, they house all elderly people, suffering from other ailments and even those who are totally healthy. “Since I work in this field, I was aware of the signs and symptoms. I knew the kind of care dementia patients require. But for laypersons, it is difficult to understand why patients behave in the way they do and that it is not intentional,” she said.
Dr Radha Murthy, co-founder of Nightingales Medical Trust, that runs the Centre, said, “A home that houses dementia patients needs to have trained caregivers because they have behavioural issues and they should be able to anticipate that. Though the government has policies on the elderly, there is nothing specific on dementia.” Nightingales Centre for Ageing and Alzheimer’s has 96 beds and it has never had empty beds, in fact it has a waiting list. “There are patients from other states as well. We have dementia care managers who are essentially rehabilitation psychologists. There are also social workers and floor in-charges. The caregiver to patient ration is on an average 1:4,” she said.
Dr Asha D’Souza has been a dementia care manager for more than four years at Nightingales. She describes a typical day at the home from 7 am to 9 pm as one without a dull moment. “Though they don’t remember us, they appreciate us for taking care of them sometimes. They recollect whatever little they can
about their families and tell us. That is satisfying,” she says.
Food, laundry, treatment included
The care cost includes nursing care, food, laundry, in-house doctors visits, psychological support and bed charges. It also includes basic physiotherapy by a physiotherapist once in two weeks.
After breakfast, all residents are encouraged to join in group exercises and cognitive stimulation activities which continue till afternoon. Following lunch, most of them take a short nap before coming down for evening group activities. On certain days of the week, we have specialized therapies as pottery, music and dance.