You might have seen the famous movie "The Notebook" where Allison suffers from a mental illness related to memory loss. That is Alzheimer's; only much more worse in reality.
It is hard to come in grips with being affected by Alzheimer's. Whether it's a parent, a grandparent or a partner, this disease takes away the person's memories, which help them be who they are, taking an emotional toll on everyone. This is an irreversable disease that progresses over time, variying from patient to patient, and no two cases are the same.
We visited the Alzheimer's & Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), Delhi Chapter to see if there was any way we could help bringing awareness to the cause. Upon entering the place, it looked like any other Old Age Home, but once we interacted with the patients and some of their family members, we were taken aback by their everyday life experiences. Some of the patients couldn't speak at all, couldn't communicate that they needed to go the washroom. One patient confused a pen for a phone, another one kept forgetting he just had his lunch and would continously ask for food.
In India, the disease has become a very critical area of concern due to the stigma attached to mental illnesses. Caregivers, which are mostly family members lack the basic understanding of the ailment, there is scarce information, awareness and special services for such patients. Even a diagnose is hard when there's not proper information about the condition available out there. Even though there is no medical cure for Alzheimer's yet, an early diagnose can help prolong the rate of detoriation.
Today, there are roughly 4.1 million Indians suffering from the disease, which will double by 2030, and the costs involved are expected to increase three times. The present yearly costs of maintaining Alzheimer’s patient is roughly between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 4,50,000, which not all families can afford.
ARDSI provides a well-knit support group and a day care centre that boosts the morale of patients and caregivers. All their services are provided pro-bono, and the institute runs on private and public donations. As per Col. V.K. Khanna, Executive Director, ARDSI, he had approached many corporates for funding but most of them are not interested in persuing the cause of Alzheimer's as they believe there isn't a point investing in spent force (elders), and don't see any publicity returns as they would if they invested in Child Rights, Women Empowerment, Cancer or other widely known causes.
Recently, a major funding has also backed out from helping ARDSI, and the current financial situation is a great matter of concern for them. Watch the video to know more about ARDSI, their services and why they need your help.
After our first meeting with them at the Day-care centre, we were touched by all the good work being done to fight Alzheimer's in India by supporting all those affected. Family members felt safe leaving them at the center and going to work. There is a 24/7 helpline in place incase the families want to get in touch regarding any difficulties they face while taking care for the patient. They provide medicines for free to patients who cant afford them, they hold seminars and talks so more and more people are aware of the condition.
We decided to make an uncompensated campaign dedicated to their work in the feild of Alzheimer's. Over January - February 2016, we created two awareness videos, launched the hashtag #AlzCantWin and built an online crowdfunding campaign for the organization. Your support will be more than valuable. Please visit http://www.ketto.org/alzcantwin and stand with ARDSI.
Our only hope is, that through ARDSI, people get educated about the Alzheimer's disease and that there is always a safe haven for those suffering from the menace.