BENGALURU: In the next two years, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) will open a care centre for dementia patients and a training centre for their professional caregivers at its Sakalwara Community Mental Health Centre Campus.
The need to care for dementia patients and home-based care with the help of community health workers was discussed at a webinar -- Geriatric Mental Health -Contemporary and Future Perspectives – on Friday.
Professor C R Chandrashekar, former professor of psychiatry, NIMHANS, and founder of Samadhana Counselling Centre was felicitated for donating Rs 50 lakh to support the operational expenditure of the 40-bed REC Dementia Care Centre. He had earlier donated Rs 50 lakh for the same and Rs 8 lakh from his foundation.
“This will be a first-of-its-kind centre in the country which will have a range of dementia services, including acute care, long-term care, respite care to give caregivers a break and palliative care. The Rural Electrification Corporation has donated Rs 10 crore for the infrastructure. Apart from care for patients, training will be given to trainees and family members who are caregivers. Primary caregivers usually get burnout and if there is a crisis or behavioural issues with the patient, they can get some respite by admitting the patient here for a short period,” said Dr P T Sivakumar, professor of Psychiatry, consultant in Geriatric Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry.
Dr Chandrashekar narrated an incident about a 64-year-old female patient he received three days ago, who had lost her husband and son to Covid-19 in a span of 10 days. “She cried for a month, did not eat well and then began saying they were not dead. She would cook for them and wait at the gate for them to arrive to eat the food. She heard their voices telling her they would come home to eat. Her family had to coax her to come inside and eat,” he said. This was one of the many examples he narrated about mental health issues in geriatric patients.
Professor Mathew Varghese, senior professor and associate dean (behavioural sciences), head, Geriatric Psychiatric Unit, Department of Psychiatry, NIMHANS, said that it is time for the Indian Council for Medical Research to come up with another geriatric task force, as the last one was formed decades ago. Older patients suffer from depression, psychosis, suicidal tendencies, dementia, etc. There is a need to screen people above 45 years of age for both dementia and non-communicable diseases, he said.