Alzheimer patients need love, care & support: Dr. Agarwal

Alzheimer’s Diseases (AD), the most common form of dementia, is spreading rapidly in India and over 4 million people in India suffer from some form of dementia or other. The Aging population is increasing in developing countries and dementia is going to become epidemic among elderly in the coming decades. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.

An analysis of prevalence, incidence, cost and trends’ finds that there are currently around 46.8 million people living with dementia around the world, with numbers set to increase to 74.7 million by 2030 and 131.5 million by 2050. There are over 9.9 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide, implying one new case every 3.2 seconds.

Dr. Pankaj A. Agarwal, Neurologist and Parkinson disease and Movement Disorders Specialist, Global Hospitals, Mumbai says, “While in India, there is a lack of awareness about brain diseases in general, this is changing and people are becoming more aware of brain disorders such as Stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Epilepsy. Unlike Parkinson’s which is mainly a problem with Movement and causes slowness, stiffness and shaking (the 3 ‘S’s), Alzheimer’s disease mainly affects Memory and other brain functions. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s today, intensive research and clinical trials are ongoing. Importantly, this research has already given us a few medications that favorably alter those brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that are affected by the disease. These drugs are available and are proven to provide significant relief from symptoms and possibly slow the progression of disease.

Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Dementia is a syndrome usually of a chronic or progressive nature in which there is deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from normal ageing.It is one of the priority conditions in the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (MHGAP), which aims to scale up care for mental, neurological and substance use disorders.

World Alzheimer Day falls on September 21st and the theme is ‘Remember Me’. The theme is based on encouraging people all around the world to learn to spot the signs of dementia, but also not to forget about loved ones who are living with dementia, or those who may have passed away.

Raising awareness among the public and general physicians is an important task ahead. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia and may contribute to 60–70% of cases. People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory loss, such as keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood.

The principal goals for dementia care are:
•Early diagnosis
•Optimizing physical health, cognition, activity and well-being
•Identifying and treating accompanying physical illness
•Detecting and treating behavioral and psychological symptoms
•Providing information and long-term support to caregivers.

Treatment of dementia depends on its cause. There is no treatment currently available to cure dementia or to alter its progressive course. Numerous new treatments are being investigated in various stages of clinical trials. But there are drug treatments that may temporarily improve symptoms.

Due to lack of awareness and understanding of dementia, it results in stigmatization and barriers to diagnosis and care. The impact of dementia on caregivers, family and societies can be physical, psychological, social and economic. Hence, in India there needs to be increased awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, to enable family members to recognize the signs in their loved ones and seek help.

No comments: