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World Alzheimer’s Day: Dementia In India Is Increasing Alarmingly And Here’s What Can Be Done

When it comes to India as per the Dementia India Report by the Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), evidence of dementia in India has increased considerably.

Image for representation only (Photo Credit: Pexels)
Image for representation only (Photo Credit: Pexels)

New Delhi: Today marks the World Alzheimer’s Day today. In India, where democratic access to advanced medical infrastructure is still a challenge, the families of dementia-struck patients often struggle to find the right resources for redressal, both for the patients and the caregivers.

Dementia led by Alzheimer’s disease is a very chronic ailment and is characterized by an increasing degradation in the intellect. From memory to learning to comprehension, everything gets affected. At times people even struggle to maintain their long-lived language and judgment powers due to this very degradation of the brain cells.

Largely a nightmare for older people, about 2% of the cases of Alzheimer’s begin before the age of 65 years. However, after this, researches suggest that the prevalence of this disease is doubled every five years. When it comes to India as per the Dementia India Report by the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), evidence of dementia in India has increased considerably.

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The figures suggested by the ARDSI in 2010 when 3.7 million people had dementia when extrapolated show 7.6 million Indians may be affected in 2030. “The prevalence of dementia increased steadily with age and higher prevalence was seen among older women than men,” it said.

ADRSI suggests that by the year 2026, more than 5,00,000 older people with dementia are expected to be living in the states of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. It also says that in the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Odessa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala, two to four lac people with dementia may be living by 2030.

“Compared to 2006, Delhi, Bihar, and Jharkhand are expected to experience 200% (or greater) increment in a total number of dementia cases over the 26-year period,” ADRSI suggested while adding that other states are estimated to experience 100% (or more) increase in a number of people with dementia.

The figures suggest that over 4.4 million people with dementia were recorded in India in 2015 and this number is expected to double by 2030. “Only 10% of cases are diagnosed.”

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COVID and Dementia

Recent research has suggested that the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is getting more common among those seniors who are affected by the Covid 19.

“Older adults with COVID-19 were at significantly increased risk for a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease with the highest risk in people age ≥85 and in women,” the research that appeared in the Journal For Alzheimer’s Disease said. The research also suggested that the risk of having Alzheimer’s among senior patients had nearly doubled during a period of one year following their covid infection.

Mitigation

The experts have suggested that dementia services in India are scarce and limited. It was the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI) that was established in 1992 and had led dementia advocacy through its 20 chapters in India but nothing much has been done ahead.

They suggest that government should declare dementia as a national public health priority and also develop a comprehensive response through a multi-sectoral approach.

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“States to develop respective strategies and programs. 80% of states where NGOs work on this will have at least a few functioning public awareness campaigns on dementia to foster a dementia-inclusive society. 5% of states will have at least a few dementia-friendly initiatives 50% of states shall have stakeholder-specific sensitization guides/manuals,” ADRSI suggests besides asking families of these patients to promote healthy self-life style awareness.

It also says that there should be an increase in dementia literacy among the public. “Activities related to the reduction of stigma around dementia. Integrate dementia awareness activities with other old age-related events. Develop and ensure availability of dementia awareness multi-media packages customized to low resource settings,” ADRSI says.