Se­nior Care

To mark the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day (on Septem­ber 21), we bring you a low­down on de­men­tia - its causes and cures.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS - HARSHA ADVANI

Un­der­stand­ing de­men­tia

Ac­cord­ing to an Indo Asian News Ser­vice re­search re­port, in In­dia, there are more than 50 lakh peo­ple suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia. And this num­ber is ex­pected to dou­ble by 2030. Ac­cord­ing to Dr Ramesh Patankar, neu­rol­o­gist, Zen Hospi­tal, Mum­bai, de­men­tia is de­crease in men­tal abil­ity, which leads to ham­per­ing the pa­tient’s per­sonal, so­cial and oc­cu­pa­tional life. It is an over­all de­cline in in­tel­lect.


Re­search says, one in ev­ery 14 peo­ple, af­ter the age of 65, suf­fer from de­men­tia, and the most com­mon type of de­men­tia is Alzheimer’s.

“De­men­tia to­day is on the rise be­cause of a sim­ple rea­son. With de­vel­op­ing sci­ence, life span has in­creased, and so are the cases of de­men­tia,” says Dr Patankar

“A hu­man body af­ter the age of 35 loses 3,000 neu­rons from the brain ev­ery­day. Imag­ine what hap­pens af­ter 30 or 40 years? The brain size de­creases. Ear­lier, peo­ple would not reach beyond 65-70 years, as they would die of small pox or cholera. So de­men­tia was not a ma­jor issue then. “There is an old term ‘ sathiya jana’ (turn­ing 60!), which was used for old peo­ple ear­lier. In sim­ple terms, it meant, now that the per­son is old, he might be­have ab­nor­mally or be for­get­ful. To­day, we term it as de­men­tia.

“The sec­ond rea­son is life­style. Peo­ple to­day lead stress­ful lives and suf­fer from de­pres­sion, which af­fects men­tal health.

“The third rea­son is tech­nol­ogy. Ev­ery­thing is avail­able at the click of a but­ton and there is no men­tal ex­er­cise, which also leads to de­men­tia later in life.”


De­crease in mem­ory. For­get­ting com­mon daily chores or com­monly used words.

De­crease in word out­put. Re­peat­ing the same ques­tion and for­get­ting days and dates.

De­crease in cal­cu­la­tion. Get­ting con­fused with num­bers.

Tak­ing longer to com­plete fa­mil­iar tasks. And mis­plac­ing things/ for­get­ting the neigh­bour­hood/ di­rec­tions while walk­ing.

Change in think­ing pat­tern. Get­ting con­fused while talk­ing.

Hal­lu­ci­na­tion. Imag­in­ing things that never ac­tu­ally hap­pened.


While there is no sci­en­tific data to pre­vent mem­ory loss due to de­men­tia, there are a few ways to pre­vent the dis­ease from oc­cur­ring.

Stud­ies clearly in­di­cate that a per­son with more in­tel­lec­tual back­ground or ed­u­ca­tion has a less chance of hav­ing de­men­tia.

Learn­ing new things, af­ter the age of 40 or 50, also helps pre­vent de­men­tia. So keep your mind busy, or learn a new lan­guage.

Keep the brain oc­cu­pied and don’t let it be idle. Play cross­words or solve rid­dles.

Con­sume a healthy diet

Make the pa­tient keep a diary to note down any­thing he/ she wants. Keep an iden­tity card in the pa­tient’s pocket, in case they lose their way out­side.

of fresh fruits, greens and dry fruits. Ex­er­cise daily. Be happy, and avoid stress and anx­i­ety, as they could im­pair mem­ory.


Not all kinds of de­men­tia can be cured 100%, but there are some kinds which are con­trol­lable and there are some which are cur­able. For ex­am­ple, if a per­son has de­men­tia be­cause of a vi­ta­min B12 or thy­roid de­fi­ciency, they are com­pletely cur­able. If a per­son suf­fers from de­men­tia be­cause of a clot in the brain or a tu­mour which has re­sulted in de­men­tia, it is treat­able de­men­tia. But if the per­son suf­fers from Alzheimer’s, it is a nat­u­rally de­cay­ing process of the brain cells, which is only con­trol­lable but not cur­able. Medicines can only be useful to a cer­tain ex­tent. They may help in in­creas­ing mem­ory or calm­ing pa­tients who suf­fer from hal­lu­ci­na­tions.

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