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World Alzheimer’s Day: Early detection of Alzheimer’s essential, number of patients rising worldwide, say experts

September is observed as dementia awareness month and September 21 as World Alzheimer’s Day.

dementia riskDementia is the seventh leading cause of death in the world. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

Dementia is a major cause of dependency among the elderly but public awareness about early signs and symptoms of dementia remains incredibly low, said Dr Jayashree Dasgupta, project director and co-founder, Samvedna Senior Care. At this critical juncture when dementia patients are increasing worldwide, it is essential to bust the myth that dementia is a normal part of ageing, he added.

He was speaking at a seminar on ‘The influence of multimedia in creating awareness on dementia and Alzheimer’s-related disorders’, organised by the Chaitanya Institute For Mental Health and ARDSI, Pune chapter (affiliated to Alzheimer’s Related Disorders Society of India National Office), on September 20.

September is observed as dementia awareness month and September 21 as World Alzheimer’s Day.

The World Health Organisation released a report this month on public health response to dementia, which states that there are more than 55 million people living with Dementia across the world with a new case developing every three seconds. Dementia is the seventh leading cause of death in the world and the number of people living with dementia is expected to rise to 7.6 million within 10 years, according to experts.

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Since 2017, Samvedna Senior Care has been working with resident welfare associations and organisations to conduct dementia awareness drives and memory screening camps, besides providing dementia-specific services. This month, free online screening camps are being held to encourage early detection of dementia.

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For people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, personal identity can seem to slip away as cognitive abilities decline. But even as individuals begin to lose touch with current events, they may hold on to cherished memories. Photographs, treasured objects and favourite songs can help stimulate fond thoughts of the past in people with dementia, said Rony George of Chaitanya Institute For Mental Health said.

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Simple psychological tests and clinical examinations are cost-effective, non-invasive ways to screen for initial signs of dementia, experts said. But there are few memory screening clinics in India, Dasgupta said. Dr Amit Dias from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at Goa Medical College, said, “Due to stigma and lack of awareness, more than 90 per cent of people with dementia in India do not even get a diagnosis and find it difficult to cope with the complex brain condition.”

First published on: 21-09-2021 at 21:54 IST
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