Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Monday, December 17, 2007

Keeping track of Elderly is difficult

It took a little over 48 hours for Banubi to be reunited with her family members on Saturday evening, thanks to the smart work put in by the Elders Helpline (No. 1090), run jointly by the Nightingale Medical Trust and the City Police of Bangalore.

Sixty-five-year-old Banubi from the neighbouring State lost her way in the City a couple of days ago. She was neither familiar with the language nor route. Making her position worse was the fact that she was a victim of dementia, a disease characterised by memory loss and behavioural disorders.

It took a little over 48 hours for her to be reunited with her family members on Saturday evening, thanks to the smart work put in by the Elders Helpline (No. 1090), run jointly by the Nightingale Medical Trust and the City Police.

Banubi hails from a village, Tagepally, in Krishnagiri district. She and her son Babu were part of a large group that landed in the City on Wednesday to attend a relative’s wedding.

A day later, Banubi had strayed away from the marriage hall and was found loitering on Avenue Road by a woman constable around 11.30 am. Police alerted the Elders Helpline.

Counsellors at the Helpline had a tough time eliciting information from Banubi as her speech was neither coherent nor was her memory accurate. She spoke in Urdu and Tamil. “Her grand saree and ornaments enabled us to know that she had visited the City for a wedding,” said counsellor Geetha. She kept using the names Tagepally and Sowdepally, which were villages located at two extreme ends and the name Ismail.

Using police contacts, counsellors found out that the village was in Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu. Volunteer Uma Murthy called up a friend Jyoti Shankar. “Within ten minutes, she gave me phone numbers of neighbouring police stations and we started our hunt from there,” says Uma.

Meanwhile, Babu had filed a complaint at Malleswaram police station that his mother had gone missing. The helpline had also ensured proper care and stay for Banubi at a private old age home at K R Puram.

“Elders Helpline passed on the information to Krishnagiri Superintendent police and they put them across to the Maharajakadai police station. Police found out that one Ismail had expired six months and his widow Banubi was on a trip to Bangalore,” said Geetha. Thanks to phones in neighbouring houses, police were able to inform Banub’s daughter Laila and son-in-law Amanullah that their mother was found in Bangalore. The duo rushed by car to the City by afternoon and were reunited with her on Saturday evening.

She did not seem to recognise her daughter and son-in-law. However, after some time, she was found talking to them animatedly. Volunteers at the Elders Helpline were frantically trying to call up her son Babu on the number given at the police station to inform him that his mother was found. However, he did not respond to calls.

When this reporter asked Banubi about her children, she said she could not recall how many she had. It is indeed heartwarming that an elderly woman in such a condition was reunited with her family.


There are 32,000 people in the City identified as suffering from Dementia, said Dr Radha S Murthy, Managing Trustee, Nightingales Medical Trust. Urging people never to let the elderly out on their own, Radha said, “We have 75 cases of Dementia reported in the City this year alone, averaging five a month. There must be some address or phone number stitched on to their blouses or shirts when they are let out alone to enable us to contact their relatives. Identity cards in pockets or on person is not the solution as they are fidgety by nature and throw or tear them away.”


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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