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"Establishing and nurturing inclusivity is crucial for enhancing the quality of life for individuals with dementia" - Neha Sinha

In conversation with Neha Sinha, CEO & Co-founder, Epoch Elder Care

1. How does EPOCH differentiate itself from competitors in providing comprehensive dementia care within its facilities?

Since our inception in 2012, our journey has been dedicated to continual learning, aiming to provide a holistic, care offering for elders who need assistance in their daily activities. At the heart of our growth lie essential elements: providing deep clinical, person-centred care but in a home-like environment focusing on their quality of life. It is expected that the elderly population in India will soar to 300 million by 2050, constituting 18 percent of the nation's populace. More than 70% of the elderly population suffer from more than one co-morbidities. Epoch assisted living homes was born out of an attempt to meet a gap between existing home care services and healthcare solutions like hospitals and nursing homes. Initially, we started off as a companionship provider, but soon realized there were very few options or resources available for the care of an elder dealing with a chronic condition. Therefore, we decided to pivot from companionship services to the other end of the care spectrum-assisted living and dementia care homes. : Since then, we have garnered recognition as a frontrunner in both assisted living and dementia care.

While there exists a multitude of options for dementia care and assisted living, our commitment to personalized care and holistic care approach is what sets us apart. We design person-centric care plans for each elder keeping in mind their personal as well as clinical histories and offer specialized in-house training to our staff. Our goal is to meet the expectations of each family member aiming to achieve the highest quality of life possible for every elder. Each of our care programs focuses on all key aspects of aging & well-being covering, physical, cognitive, emotional, psychological, spiritual & social well-being. In addition, we also ensure that families are deeply involved and feel connected to their loved ones. Through transparent communication and steadfast support, we guide families through a seamless transition, ensuring their loved ones feel entirely at home and at ease.

2. What types of support are most beneficial for caregivers of individuals with dementia?

First and foremost, it's crucial to understand that caring for elders with dementia poses more challenges than tending to those with physical conditions. When you care for someone with dementia, you're investing a part of yourself. Recognizing that dementia is not merely a 'mental health issue' but a neurological one is paramount. The journey is full of challenges, so how can we establish supportive mechanisms for caregivers?

We firmly believe that supporting caregivers is integral to delivering effective care. There are various avenues to provide support, including psycho-educational workshops – equipping caregivers with essential knowledge about the condition's progression, coping strategies, symptom management, and communication techniques. Support groups offer opportunities to share experiences and connect with others navigating similar challenges, while respite care provides temporary relief, providing caregivers some much-needed time for themselves. The ultimate objective is to empower caregivers with the knowledge, skills, and resources to navigate the complexities of dementia care while fostering their overall well-being.

3. How can communities become more dementia-friendly, and what are the benefits of such initiatives?

Establishing and nurturing inclusivity is crucial for enhancing the quality of life for individuals with dementia and their families. This includes several key initiatives aimed at raising awareness and reducing stigma. It is important to acknowledge that isolating someone with dementia only fuels poor prognosis and leads to rapid stage progression. Promoting awareness on the subject to educate the public will foster empathy and understanding. \, training service providers, and public offices such as banks, and police stations and assisting healthcare professionals in recognizing early signs of dementia is imperative. Focusing on training community members at large on how to communicate with someone with dementia is also critical.

4. What are the emerging trends in elder care, and how might they influence the future of dementia care in India? 

The Indian population has been at a crossroads when it comes to elder care. At the moment we are still a young nation and caring for the elderly historically and culturally has always been considered as an individual, familial responsibility rather than of the state or community. One silver lining of the pandemic was the fact that it highlighted the need for better palliative care for our seniors. As a result, we’ve seen a significant jump in the number of elder care providers in the private sector such as concierge services, retirement communities, elder care homes, home care services, preventive health, and assistive technology. Furthermore, there have been numerous strides in elder care services, incorporating technology to enable remote monitoring, personalized care plans, and enhanced communication among caregivers, healthcare professionals, and individuals with dementia. A notable focus has been placed on increasing awareness about early signs of cognitive decline and lifestyle changes to slow down the progression of dementia. Finally, there's a surge in the efficient utilization of telehealth and virtual care services, providing enhanced accessibility and support. This holds immense potential to elevate the quality of life for individuals with dementia and their families.

5. India Aging Report 2023 suggests that the population above 60 years will reach 20.8 per cent by 2050 which is double the existing percentage, suggesting that 1 in every 5 individuals will be a senior citizen. So is there a growing need for a better supportive environment for geriatric care and more assisted living homes? 

Yes, as there is a need for a better supportive environment for geriatric care and more assisted living homes. There is a lack of professional care services and training resources that leave the sandwich generation at a loss in planning care management for their parents, especially at home. The existing gap highlights how much work is to be done, and it's not just the government's responsibility but that of the individuals as well. Looking after our elders is a moral obligation that we as a society need to take responsibility for collectively; we need to create a sustainable ecosystem that is safe, healthy, and active for us to age in.

Now, the traditional approach may not be sufficient to handle complex cases due to several reasons like limited family support and safety concerns. So when designed and managed responsibly, assisted living homes can provide a safe, stimulating, and supportive environment that caters to their holistic needs. These homes offer 24*7 supervision, access to professional care, opportunities for social interaction promotion, and a sense of community and belonging. Alternatively, it is important to realize that assisted living homes are not a one-size-fits-all solution. The decision of where and how to provide Dementia care should be made on a case-by-case basis factoring in individual's needs, preferences, and family circumstances. The Article 41 of our Constitution, mandates the well-being of our senior citizens and it quotes “The state shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to public assistance in cases of old age”

6. What are the skills required for dementia care?

The basic idea is to provide care that is beyond basic assistance. For that we require a well-rounded skill set for our team, emphasizing empathy, effective communication, and the ability to adapt to changing caregiving situations. Dementia care would need professionals with problem-solving skills who can effectively collaborate within a multidisciplinary team. Someone with cultural competence and who cares about the well-being of the residents. Someone who truly believes that each elder is different. This is an ever-evolving process of continuous learning to deliver exceptional and holistic care.


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Neha Sinha Epoch Elder Care

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