KOCHI: Strengthening its fight against the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s, Kochi will soon become India’s first Dementia-friendly City (DFC), thanks to Udbodh, a project launched by Cusat’s Centre of Neuroscience. The programme, which hopes to improve the quality of life of those fighting the condition by facilitating early detection, is the first of its kind in the country and has been conceptualised by Prajna (insight) of the Centre for Neuroscience.
According to Baby Chakrapani P S, assistant professor, Department of Biotechnology, the district administration has extended its full support for the project.
“According to the Population Census of 2011, there are nearly 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) in India, of which 53 million are females, and 51 million are males. Compared to other states, the proportion of the aged population in Kerala is higher. Currently, 42 lakh people in Kerala are 60 and above, of which 13 per cent are 80 years and beyond. The ‘Old Dependency Ratio of India’ as per 2011 census is 142/1000. But in Kerala, it is 196/1000 due to higher life expectancy,” he said. Hence, it becomes important that we educate the community and family units regarding these conditions, he said.
“As per the disability census of 2015, persons with dementia in Kerala numbered 35,041. However, it may not be accurate since people are hardly informed and aware of the condition. Hence, it becomes highly essential to provide basic awareness about dementia and implement a proper mechanism to facilitate early detection,” said Chakrapani.
Under the project, no Alzheimer’s case will go undetected. It also envisages ensuring a social life for those suffering from the condition. Instead of, being constrained in the houses, those with dementia need to get a chance to interact with other members of the society, said Chakrapani.
According to him, the project is being implemented in four stages. “In the first stage, awareness will be created. For this, we have sought the help of Asha workers and residents’ associations. Once the door-to-door awareness campaign concludes, the next stage will be an orientation programme for doctors, apart from neurologists who are presently aware of the situation, and even nurses on how to identify the signs that signal the condition,” he said.
Memory walk, cafe
As a part of the project, a memory walk and Kerala’s first memory cafe was also organised. “Once the first two steps of the project are completed, memory clinics will be set up in hospitals,” he said. The project has been envisaged for six months, after which it will have to continue with the help of the public. As part of the project, an international conference titled ‘An international conference on Alzheimer’s in science and society’ will be held at Cusat. The team Udbodh has enlisted various sections of the community for implementation of the project.