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