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World Alzheimer’s day: Support groups for dementia caregivers essential says Therapist
When Sreenivasan’s father was suffering from Alzheimer’s, a common form of dementia characterised by disorientation and memory loss, he kept leaving his home. When this was repeated several times a day, Sreenivasan was in a fix. After attending a meeting with a support group, he arrived at a simple solution: He stuck a note saying wet paint on the door, which stopped his father from opening it.
Such support groups for caregivers is essential, as each patient experiences a different pattern, said Ravi Samuel, a psychotherapist. “A caregiver is usually on duty 24*7. They might be the spouse, son, daughter or daughter-in-law. They require a lot of support, especially emotionally. When they meet others with similar problems, they feel that they are not alone,” he said.
Vimal Balachander, founder of Support Alzheimer’s N Dementia (SAND), said caregivers go through a difficult phase, especially in the early stages. “They try hard to keep the patient tuned in and alert. It is scarier if the patient has been living alone,” she said.
Many of them are seeking help, which calls for more such groups, said Porrselvi AP, a psychologist at Arunai Thelirchi Maiyam. “A surprising thing is that a few with the condition are eager to be a part of the support group,” she said.
However, there are limitations, especially when the initial interest fizzles, she said. “Now, we are largely offering support online, though there have been some caregivers, who continued with us despite losing their loved ones,” she said.
Samuel said that though there is need and scope for these groups, the caregivers in the city have not capitalised on it. “The groups are formed by families and they seem to only involve with consultants at an individual level. They must get together and form a group, as it can be a great source to identify specialists, share information, and sort out legal and financial issues,” he said.