India is witnessing an innovative effort for patients with Alzheimer's disease through a tele-dementia care unit introduced by the Nightingale Centre for Ageing and Alzheimer's (NCAA).
After patients are screened at the Centre, the mobile unit will be involved in follow-up action. Equipped with a laptop and webcam the unit enters into the patient's home and helps consultants to see and decide what changes are needed to help the patient in better mobility. It facilitates a virtual conference between doctors and families and caregivers of patients.
The NCAA's backlog of follow-up procedures - it could cover only 25 out of the 300 people who had been screened - would be quickly dealt with through the tele-dementia care unit, reports consultant psychiatrist Dr Soumya Hegde.
Another advantage of the mobile unit is the accessibility that caregivers have to medical guidance and support group meetings, where their concerns are answered, without having to leave their homes.
The managing trustee Dr Radha Murthy has stated that the mobile unit will benefit by linking contact with patients in rural areas and in nearby towns where there is a dearth of psychiatrists and consultants.
Dr Ashok Dalwai, deputy director-general, Unique Identification Authority of India, talked about reaching out to vulnerable groups like people with dementia or Alzheimer's through an efficient collection of data and documentation.
"With a retina scan and fingerprint match, it will remove duplication and help the government reach out to those in need," he said. He also gave the assurance that this data will not be accessible to everyone, and so the privacy of an individual is not threatened.
Professor K Kasturirangan Planning Commission member, inaugurating the tele-dementia unit, said that the 12th Planning Commission had its emphasis on three areas — agriculture, health and education . The increasing number of Alzheimer's patients would spur policymakers to understand the complex problem of caring for people with dementia and Alzheimer's.
NCAA is working on getting technical support from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to have accessibility.