Girija was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and suffered from dementia for over nine years. Neither Girija nor Meera could find any help from people they approached in this period.
"There were hardly any doctors who knew about dementia," says Meera. "I had to read up a lot about it to learn. Unfortunately, my mother passed away before I could help her in any way."
It was then that the 49-year-old decided to help other such families by sharing her experience. "It is a very confusing time for the family," says Meera. "The family also goes through different stages with the patient." Today, she is part of the Silver Innings Dementia Support Group and the Holy Family Dementia Support Group.
The Silver Innings support group was started two years ago. It comprises clinical psychiatrists, social workers, and volunteers, and has visited over 60 patients, residing between Andheri and Bhayander, to provide guidance and support.
To reach out to families beyond Andheri, the group recently collaborated with the Holy Family Hospital to start the Holy Family support group. This group meets at 4pm on the last Saturday of every month at the Holy Family Hospital. A doctor, a clinical psychologist, and a social worker are available to help those who attend.
"A support group is a great help," says Dr Charles Pinto, psychiatrist, Holy Family Hospital. "It helps to educate the family about the disorder. Most importantly, you get inputs and emotional support from others."
According to Raheen Jumani, a clinical psychologist, most people who have someone in the family suffering from dementia look for moral support. "Such a group allows them to take some time out to talk openly about their feelings," she says. "They are also able learn through other people's experiences."
The doctors present at the meetings answer queries and clear doubts for over an hour.
Contact Silver Innings Dementia Support Group at 90290 00091 (Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm)