Dementia,  Mental Health Awareness,  Women

Week #8 Women who Advocate for Mental Health

With determination and relentless commitment Amrita is one of the few professionals who pioneered the cause for the elderly early on. She understands their requirements, and more importantly the caregivers plight while taking care of their loved one. Her ability to envision a caring future and unwavering leadership ability has ensured her organisation has grown from to strength to strength.

Amrita Patil Pimpale : Founder, Echoing Healthy Ageing, a social enterprise working in Dementia care sector, focusing on home based therapies, counselling, Dementia care training for family carers and professional .Consultant to geriatric care facilities to implement best practices. Winner of Social Entrepreneur ‘ Unltd India award’ for Year 2012 and 2013. Previously Project Manager of care home improvement project in England, researcher University of Northampton UK. Certified Trainer of Person centred dementia care from University of Bradford, UK ; Dementia care mapping advance practitioner (an international framework used for training needs analysis, staff development, quality improvement, benchmarking and quality assurance) and Best practices dementia care from University of Stirling, Scotland. Designed, delivered training for care staff (dementia care), NHS nurses in England and has internationally published research papers in dementia care.

Caring & Committed

Over last 10 years, I have definitely seen people becoming more aware about mental health issues, are seeking help of professionals. However stigma about mental health problems still prevails in our society. With elderly, when they experience memory loss, communication impairment due to mental health or neurological disease, family members most often seek help of Psychiatrist, neurologist to diagnose condition ,however they often prefer not to disclose diagnosis to their family ,friends . Perhaps fear that what will people around them think, which sadly gives the message to those who living with mental health issues, to battle in silence knowing that there is lack of compassion, understanding for their diagnosis. Whereas reality is for people living with certain mental health disorders, could benefit from empathetic support of people around them.
It is promising to see now more and more organisations, individuals are taking a lead and talking about mental health well-being, taking active steps ,offering support to individuals living with mental health disorders. handful of organisations are working exclusively for elderly, we can hope that in future more widespread support with be available for older adults in India.

For me my occupation brings me immense amount of joy, it fills most part of my day making it more fulfilling and productive. I routinely engage in self care, which includes weekly Yoga sessions, short breaks with family and connecting with nature as much as possible.
What concerns do you feel are unique to elderly mental health in India? And How do you think they can go ahead and take care of it?
In India, lack of governments policies for seniors population, scarcity of efficient elder friendly resources make life of elderly particularly with disabilities mental and physical difficult to have a quality of life.
But seniors, can still work on setting up a robust routine for themselves with available resources. A recent research published in the Journal of Neurology states that Engaging in a higher number of mentally stimulating activities, particularly in late life, is associated with a decreased risk of cognitive impairment among older persons. Loneliness and social isolation are growing problems in our country, especially for seniors. Social isolation is one of the risk factor for developing dementia in late life as per the recent Lancet study.

Hence Seniors must invest their time in Self-care including regular physical exercise, mentally stimulating activities like reading, solving puzzles,doing craft and by keeping themselves socially engaged like spending quality time with family, friends, being part of seniors club can help maintain their physical and mental health.

With the much needed push for gender equality in recent days, this is the right time to for women to join hands together strengthen the cause, and most importantly empower less privilege women of our society.

As more studies closely link physical health to Mental health , we as society ought to work on strengthening our health systems that focus on mental health of our citizens.For our country like India, where diversity of population, geography, cultures more innovative and local approaches will bring in necessary awareness about mental health along with effective early intervention.Simple and practical intervention in community with help of technology can bring in positive change in Mental health and hence in true physical health.

Follow Amrita’s work online

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