Bringing home-based medical care to the elderly- a project in Kerala, India

In India, the medical condition Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is relatively unknown. However, the tide is shifting quickly and dramatically. Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia are becoming much more noticeable amongst the elderly in India. Joseph AM, Local Representative of Vijayapuram village knows this too well.

His mother has entered the advanced stages of AD and is bed-ridden, unable to feed herself and requires 24 hour daily care. For Joseph, the financial and emotional burden is overwhelming and unrelenting. He is not alone.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disorder which destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behaviour severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for the loss of memory and other intellectual abilities.

By 2025 India will have over 177million elderly people. If current estimates that 1 in 4 Indians over the age of 80 have AD, then by 2025 there will be a substantial number of elderly Indians who will require medical and aged care. This projection raises an urgent problem: how to build care capacity for millions and millions of dementia sufferers in less than 15 years? For the very poor this scenario is even worse: no health insurance, no access to the very few community nursing homes or aged-care support programmes, and no money to pay for medication or basic care. Joseph explains further- "there is no practice of doctors attending the patients at homes. The bed ridden old patients suffer a lot due to this. Even in emergency situations people find it very difficult to carry the patients to the far away hospitals due to the lack of transportation facilities. So also here the doctors are not available for 24 hour’s service even in palliative care service. In India there is not the practice of doctors attending the serious patients at homes even for remuneration."

Meanwhile, back in the beautiful southern Indian state of Kerala, Joseph and his local community at Vijayapuram want to start something that will have a direct impact on the community. They have agreed that alleviating some of the burdens of caring for elderly relatives will have a beneficial effect on the quality of life for the patient, as well as their family who are often prevented from going to work and are indebted to the banks to keep up with their medical needs. For many carers, even getting their relatives to a hospital is very difficult (no means of transport) and very expensive (need to hire cars or taxi’s). Emotionally it is often very depressing and stressful.

The Vijayapuram project on Nabuur is about setting up a community home-based medical programme for Alzheimer’s patients and those who require palliative care. We are looking for Neighbours who can
• help develop a community-based programme,
• investigate funding opportunities,
• provide general health-care information, especially about dementia and palliative care
• research organisations in India that can partner with Joseph and his community
Developing the community programme and sourcing essential funding are the two most important tasks. Neighbours living in India or who have personal experience in the Indian health care system would also be of great benefit.

Please join us today at http://www.nabuur.com/en/village/vijayapuram

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