‘We Must Make M’luru Dementia Friendly’ – MAA Founder

‘We Must Make M’luru Dementia Friendly’ – MAA Founder

An Exclusive interaction with Jerardin D’Souza, Founder of Mangalore Alzheimer’s Association (MAA) whose main aim is to “Make Mangaluru Dementia Friendly” with the forthcoming ‘World Alzheimer’s Month’ (September) in focus

Mangaluru: Alzheimer’s is an ailment which in simple language, takes one away from the reality of the present situation. Normally it is associated with forgetfulness. It is not just simple forgetfulness. It is an inability to relate the past to the present. In the final stages one no more recognizes one’s own family, he or she lives with, mistakenly takes the kitchen for the toilet or any other such gross discrepancies. Today while Alzheimer’s is spreading fast, we have to find means of avoiding it by keeping the mind active, playing indoor games, solving cross word puzzles and other such, without getting alarmed over forgetfulness of immediate things which comes with ageing. At the same time the past is almost indelibly written in the memory. We must keep our minds active and receptive at all times. With the enthusiasm of the Founder Director Jerardin D’souza, the Mangalore Alzheimer’s Association is moving ahead.

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Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing. Organizations like MAA play an important role in caring for the elderly with symptoms of Alzheimer’s/Dementia. Being an engineer Jerardin D’souza has come forward to sacrifice his time for a better cause, and he at the helm as founder of MAA is doing a yeoman job. The government can help such organizations, but here are many ways you public can help MAA lead the fight against dementia. From making donations, signing up to one of their fundraising events, volunteering in your local area or getting involved in their campaigning issues, you can surely make a difference.

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September being World Alzheimer’s Month, mangalorean.com, met with Jerardin D’souza,the Founder of MAA -Mangalore Alzheimer’s Association, who has made lessening the pain and suffering of both the Alzheimer’s Sufferers and their families and care givers, his mission in life. Though he is a chartered Engineer, who was also the founder member of Karnataka State Christian Minority Development Council [KSCMDC] with the Chief Minister as chairman., Having met Richard Shreder, An American, who was the Director of Alzheimer’s facilities in Seattle ,USA, Jerardin with abundant support from well meaning Mangaloreans, Founded -MAA -, which is trying to reach out and create awareness through various means, like TV, Radio, Internet, Social Media, Print Media, Social Organizations like Lions, Rotary etc.

Born on 7 July 1962, Jerardin is son of Late L C D’Souza- the renowned, brilliant Police Officer, who made a difference to the lives of people whom he came across, with his social commitment, and Evelyn D’Souza- Govt. Officer, actively involved with social service. He has one sister-Joyce Pinto – a Shipping Consultant at Seven Seas Shipping -Mumbai, and three other brothers namely-Joel D’Souza, Bank Consultant / Adviser -Kuwait, Jeevan D’Souza- a entrepreneur and Late Rohan D’Souza, who died of cancer in 2002. After having education at St Aloysius College, Jerardin later did his Engineering Graduate in Mechanical Engineering, B.E., M.I.E., Chartered Engineer, University of Mysore. He was an active Student – Proactive General Secretary of Engineering College.

Jerardin had also done PG Diploma in Construction Management from the reputed National Institute of Construction Management & Research -NICMAR-Pune, and a Course in Journalism too. Founder Member of Karnataka State Christian Minority Development Council [KSCMDC] – with the Chief Minister as Chairman, Jerardin actively involved and reached out to the deserving in utilizing a fund of Rs 120 crores towards-Education, Church repair and maintenance, Micro Finance, Arivu Scheme, Self employment, Women self help, etc. He brought the members together and took leadership in utilizing the funds and interacting with the Government.

The first time that I met Jerardin couple of years ago at a KMC Nava Chaitanya program and that’s where we became “Chums at First Sight”, and even today I cherish our friendship. I admired his hard work and involvement pertaining towards AD patients. I can say that he is a good Samaritan and a hard Social Worker bridging the Gap Between Health Professionals and Families Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. As the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease climbs along with the nation’s aging population, social workers will likely be increasingly called on to intervene in cases involving this illness. Delivering quality care requires open avenues of communication so that all parties involved can work together toward shared goals. When there are cracks in the foundation, enlisting the help of a social worker can help close up communication gaps and can lead to more positive outcomes. And in that matter, the social service rendered by Jerardin is enormous

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I see Jerardin -a founder of MAA and a social worker as a valuable member of a care team, serving as information facilitator, therapist, and assessor. He many a times can help caregivers fully process these dialogues; learn about community programs, appropriate activities, and financial solutions; and provide psychological support. In general, I think professionals rely on social workers to share information that may not be evident to them—to be “the doctor’s eyes and ears of what’s happening in the home/nursing home environment. By broaching complex topics and initiating discussions about possible care strategies, Jerardin guides families and professionals toward improving quality of life for the individual with dementia/AD, as well as for caregivers. Jerardin interacts with the family members of the patients, and arranges the necessary precautions/care that need to be taken concerning AD patients.

Jerardin plays an critical role in making all the pieces fit when individuals don’t have the cognitive skills or focus to tell their own tales. Families can be tellers of what makes them and, most importantly, their loved ones more comfortable, [such as] what are their favorite foods or what do they enjoy. In such situation, Jerardin help families to take on the role of the protector. He is a skilled listener- he sits down with a family and assess their knowledge, strengths, weaknesses, expectations, and potential support system. He pays attention to details and ask for detailed information such as what the patient was like before the Alzheimer’s diagnosis so as to better understand the person’s life story.

This is the information that can lead to an effective care plan. Many a times Jerardin acts like a counselor which could help family communicate better so that they can support one another rather than create conflict. To sum it up, all I can say is that this “hefty Man” does great service when it comes to taking care of AD/Dementia patients- he truly is a good Samaritan, a hard Social Worker, a Friendly Man, a Respected gentleman, and above all, a great Human Being”. I feel proud and honored to be his close friend. May God bless Jerardin in all his endeavors and his projects concerning the AD/Dementia patients, and long live Mangalore Alzheimer’s Association and the newly formed PAGE.

Interactive Moments with Er.Jerardin D’souza, Founder Director of MAA- Mangalore Alzheimer’s Association, who shared his thoughts and feelings for the Elders who suffer sad incurable diseases like Alzheimer’s, but expressed hope that Care Giving and improving the quality of Life must be the focus. Team Mangalorean caught up with him in his hectic schedule to make September truly reach out to the suffering. Excerpts from the interview:

Q : What motivated you to devote time and energy to this Alzheimer’s cause ?

Well, it was not my plan to do anything like this. People who knew me are in fact shocked and surprised that I am so active in a cure-less, sad cause pertaining to the elders, who mostly don’t even have money to take care of themselves. But, I had leadership skills which helped me in founding and running this unique organization MAA.I wouldnt say that I do anything much, but I provide certain leadership and create awareness through my friends in the media like you mangalorean.com, who has been a part of MAA, in highlighting our activities. Then of course there is Dr.Prabha Adhikari,KMC, who has provided medical inputs and always been a great Mentor.

Q: How is MAA helping the Alzheimer’s affected ?

That is a very pertinent question. When the Medical field itself has not found a cure for this sad and destructive affliction, we as an organization need to concentrate on care giving and connecting the family to competent doctors and care givers. In fact , it was an honour and recognition of sorts when the renowned Physician Dr.Hansraj Alva called me the other day to refer an Alzheimer’s Sufferer to me. Our Team swung into action, visited the sufferers house, where a couple was living and the husband was diagnosed with AD. The daughter had to leave immediately .Dr.Prabha counseled them and got them to join Spoorthi Trust Exercise regimen, where both are doing pretty well.

Such cases come on a regular basis, we provide the necessary support and counselling . Even trained care givers are provided. There are plans to train care givers in caring for Alzheimer’s affected. A start has been made and Mohanraj, a Social worker, has got himself trained in palliative care, which Dr,Jochen Becker, Germany conducted for MD doctors.He provides care givers and even visits the affected families. Even memory tests are conducted and where needed, memory exercises are provided to strengthen the memory.

Q : What is the purpose of observing Alzheimer’s month?

As you are aware, the public awareness of Alzheimer’s is minimal. People confuse forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s. Forgetfulness is an aging process well as Alzheimer’s is a Disease of the Brain, where brain cells are affected and the disease is terminal without cure. We need to make people aware of the ways to take care, to understand them and to handle the AD affected effectively and with empathy .

We are involving a cross section of society , representative of all sections, from students of Social work to Medicine to Engineering to general . The district administration, social organizations like Lions and Rotary. This awareness will help the affected family to take better care . We encourage people to learn to spot the signs of dementia, but also not to forget about loved ones who are living with dementia.

Q: What do you expect from the public as support and contribution towards MAA/PAGE?

There is nothing I expect from the public, because I feel I am the public. It was just a chance meeting that led to all this and the support that has been created is truly overwhelming. Specially from families that have suffered this Traumatic, less understood terminal disease. Of course there is a need for a special Facility for the later stage Alzheimer’s patients, we need land, we need a specially designed building, above all we need people willing to serve. In its time, I know it will happen, the way MAA has evolved, all needs of MAA also will be met. Simply because its not my MAA alone, its every one’s MAA. I appeal to everyone to realize the implication of this AD, where you lose your very own, when ALIVE.

The awareness campaign through the various media, Print [newspapers], Visual like TV news, Internet, etc. There is a popular Facebook MAA page, which is uploaded with all MAA activities and interactions with international Medical Advisers. Posting of the latest developments on the Page. We request everyone to Please LIKE the MAA page on Facebook and Help create awareness and join the MAA Movement. I interact with hospital heads, Deans, HOD, International consultants like Dr.Becker, Germany. The first Palliative Care Course in Geriatrics at KMC, I got myself certified along with MD doctors. Meet the leaders, both political as well as religious, Ministers, Bishop, Swamis and interact and inform them. Conducted the Landmark “Panel Discussion on Alzheimer’s Disease’ with support from Five Seniors organizations.

What plans have been scheduled for the September World Alzheimer’s Month?

We are Launching the Alzheimer’s Month on September 1 st at Kadri Park at 7 am. There will be month long awareness programs at multiple locations for various groups. Our very purpose is to make Mangaluru Dementia Friendly. Mangaluru having so many hospitals and colleges, its surprising that not a single bed is exclusively for Alzheimer’s suffering. We intend to campaign and create such an atmosphere to have full fledged care centers for Alzheimer’s sufferers. In my TV Talks, I had told about the Dementia Village Concept or Dementia facilities, specially built for the Alzheimer’s Suffering. There are people who have offered Land, now with the momentum building up, I am sure constructive action will happen.

We have met the important people of Mangaluru like The Bishop, who promised to involve Fr. Muller’s Hospital and provide exclusive beds for Alzheimer’s Suffering; Vinay Hegde of Nitte University was very supportive. Farad of Yenepoya university was very encouraging. With support pouring in we are sure to make strong efforts in making Mangaluru Dementia Friendly. I appeal to all citizens of Mangaluru to participate in the Activities of “WORLD ALZHEIMER’S MONTH” and support a very deserving and needy cause. Be at Kadri Park on 1st September at 7 AM for the Launch

Q: What is your message to the readers of Mangalorean.com ?

“My Life is my message” said the Mahatma, well, If a person like me, who had no background in this field could try to make a difference, I feel everyone can show a little sensitivity and do their bit. Now I get glimpses of the term ”In giving you receive” though I have done nothing at all, maybe a little ‘belling the cat’ activity by trying to create awareness and used the Social media, Facebook etc, to good effect.

It is only when you see your own, parent or relative suffer AD that you realize the futility of it all. Once you fail to recognize your very own, then Life really stares you in your face. Place yourself there and you will want to do something. It really tries you as a human being. I want everyone to just think that you forget who you are and imagine your life. Empathy, will make you know the essence of AD. Your best self arises. Unconditional LOVE only can serve AD.

This my dears, is pure, simple ,unadulterated LOVE. Every new challenge can be faced with Love, and Care surely follows. I appeal to all well wishers, to share their Time and Money to make their MAA truly reach out to the Alzheimer’s Affected. Come Build a Facility. You can reach me at anytime, just dial: 98440-74759

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