Urgent need for policies to tackle neurological disorders: experts

New Delhi, September 21 (IANS): Professor (Dr) Rajinder K Dhamija, head of the department of neurology at Lady Hardinge Medical College, said on Tuesday that national policies and programs specifically targeting epilepsy, neuro-infections, dementia and neurodegenerative diseases must be developed by the government. He was speaking at a webinar organized by ASSOCHAM on “Aging Gracefully”, to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease on World Alzheimer’s Day.

Dhamija said that neurological diseases and mental disorders are becoming a serious public health crisis and are becoming major challenges for health systems across the world. The webinar was delivered by a galaxy of physicians, industry speakers and experts in neurology with the goal of raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease (AD), various forms of dementia and related mental disorders and disseminate knowledge / wisdom to promote healthy lifestyle with emphasis on prevention and wellness.

Noting that neurological diseases warrant urgent prioritization of programs focused on prevention and treatment, Dhamija warned that unless preparation, planning and urgent measures for the treatment and long-term care of a growing population of people with neurological disorders are initiated, this grim situation will put enormous strain on the Indian healthcare system. He called on the medical fraternity, including scientists, researchers and civil society, to raise awareness about brain health and help government agencies and NGOs provide treatment and prevention for neurological disorders.

Sharing his perspective on AD, Dr Shamsher Dwivedee, President of Neuroscience and Director of Clinical Services, Vimhans Nayati Super Specialty Hospital, highlighted how there is global neglect of the brain as part of general health awareness. while it is one of the most important organs for healthy lifestyle. “Brain performance needs to be evaluated more closely by general practitioners, family members, friends and colleagues to detect brain disease early.”

Sailesh Mishra, Founder and Chairman, Silver Innings Group and Founder, A1 Snehanjali Assisted Living Elder Care Home, said “Government and civil society must support the establishment, scale-up and evaluation of initiatives supportive of dementia to foster societies where people with dementia and their caregivers can meaningfully participate. We can all together make dementia an inclusive society.

Stating that it is painful to see your loved ones not recognizing you, Dr Ritu Rana, Health Mission Manager, HelpAge India, said that while AD can be quite difficult to manage, the care associated with it love and affection can help patients live with dignity.

Dr Suvarna Alladi, Professor of Neurology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience, Bangalore, called dementia a common brain disease in the elderly, with memory loss being a major problem that can lead to restlessness, suspicion and other distressing behavior problems. It is therefore very important to consult a doctor at the early stages of the disease, so that the best can be done for people with dementia.

Anil Rajput, Chairman of ASSOCHAM’s CSR Council, said mental health is just as important as physical health and shared his secret to healthy living – ikigai, the age-old Japanese ideology that is key of a happy and useful life.

Sharing his mantra for graceful aging, Rajput said that older people need to believe that their contribution to society is invaluable and that they themselves should retain their passion for living. Young people should not miss the opportunity to learn from those who have already walked the path you are trying to create with more vigor and vitality.

“It is very important to follow a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, a daily exercise regimen and sufficient sleep to facilitate a healthy aging process. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels must be strictly regulated and monitored. Complications of these are often the cause of mild cognitive impairment that can lead to dementia in the elderly, other than Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, “said Dr Rajesh Kesari, founder and director of Total Care Control, Delhi-NCR.

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