Let’s Talk About Dementia
Many diseases are challenging the researchers in the field of medicine that humanity is yet to find a cure. Some of them are life-threatening as well. Today people are forced to live with diseases, such as – Asthma, Hearing loss (sensorineural), Diabetes, Dengue, Rabies, Hepatitis B, Herpes simplex, whose cure is either through partial recovery or temporal relief. Diseases like Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia disrupt the life of the patient and family members. Moreover, diseases like Parkinson’s, Dementia and Alzheimer are life-limiting and pose a challenge.
Wikipedia has an exhaustive list of diseases which are yet to find a cure.
Every 3 seconds, someone in the world develops Dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of Dementia. Worldwide, at least 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other Dementias, with nearly 10 million new cases getting added every year. Ironically, almost 60% of them living in low- and middle-income countries. Nearly 4 million people have Alzheimer’s in India. The estimated proportion of the general population aged 60 and over with Dementia at a given time is around 5-8%. WHO recognises Dementia as a public health priority and estimates that in the absence of breakthrough rates could exceed 152 million by 2050.
In May 2017, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global action plan on the public health response to Dementia 2017-2025. An international surveillance platform, the Global Dementia Observatory, has been established for policymakers and researchers to facilitate monitoring and sharing of information. World Alzheimer’s Month, during September, is the international campaign by Alzheimer’s disease International, to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds Dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day is on 21 September each year and launched in 2012 and an opportunity to demonstrate how we can overcome these issues and help people live well with Dementia.
Dementia is a situation of deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour, and the ability to perform daily activities. Alzheimer is a form of Dementia that slowly progresses with age and often goes unnoticed. The human brain is a complex network of cells that work together to control the overall functioning of the body. A small change can potentially disrupt the whole process of functioning of the brain. Alzheimer’s patients have two chemicals, in excess in their brain- beta-amyloid protein and tau fibres, together, they disrupt the communication between brain cells, leading to malfunctioning of the brain. There is no curative treatment for Alzheimer’s. Drugs are only to manage symptoms and healthy lifestyle changes.
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s is not known yet. Women are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s, Hormonal changes during menopause contributing to this. People who live an unhealthy lifestyle are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer. Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and depression are associated with an increased chance of Alzheimer.
In his book, “I am still here, Creating a better life for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s” John Zeisel explains, people tend not to see the Dementia patient as the same person; being honest with the patient is essential.
With life expectancy increasing all over the world, providing care for the elderly has become a challenge. With everyone engaged in achieving worldly success and comforts, paying less and less attention for overall wellbeing. Lifestyle diseases are threatening to cripple the world; diseases like Alzheimer are posing a bigger challenge.
The sad part of it is if research and development lead to finding a solution to one disease, many others are cropping up as well.
Till such time humanity may commit to learning and exchange of knowledge to achieve holistic development with a hope for a better world soon.
Let us Talk and Get Involved!
Let us learn to adopt lifestyles and manage aspirations without losing the sight of health.