Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What comes to our mind when we see a wrinkled face? Aging. Of the body, obviously! But how will you know when someone’s brain is aging? Apparently, the brain matter and it’s “wrinkling” is not a very visible change. However, its symptoms are! Dr Sadia Vanjara explains the disease and how to combat Alzheimers.

Factors that can modify the risk of Alzheimer’s (according to World Health Organisation, 2012)

Prevalence of Alzheimer’s in present age:

Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, is one such “brain-wrinkling” disease.

It has been estimated (a WHO 2012 report) that 35.6 million people are living with dementia worldwide—a number that is projected to increase to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million three fold by 2050. Alarming isn’t it?

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Generally seen in patients over the age of 65 years and being the fourth leading cause of death in adults, Alzheimer’s is not a disease of the old anymore. Younger-onset (also known as early-onset), Alzheimer’s affects people younger than age 65. Up to 5 percent of the more than 5 million Asians with Alzheimer’s have younger-onset. Many people with early onset are in their late 50’s.

Neuroscientists find that chronic stress can lead to disorders like depression, diabetes, and cognitive impairment in aging; i.e. dementia & possibly Alzheimers.

 Causes of Early Onset of Alzheimer’s:

Most cases of early onset Alzheimer’s appear at a younger age worldwide. Scientists have pinpointed several rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s. People who inherit these rare genes tend to develop symptoms in their 30s, 40s and 50s. When Alzheimer’s disease is caused by deterministic genes, it is called “familial Alzheimer’s disease,” and many family members in multiple generations are affected.

Increased levels of stress, multitasking for innumerable hours, coping up with ever-increasing daily challenges, lack of mindfulness, breathing & not ready to slow down, together act as catalysts for age-group of 50+ to become easy targets.

The Need for More Public Awareness and Research:

There is an urgent need to improve the awareness and understanding of dementia across all levels of society as a step towards improving the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

Awareness-raising campaigns should be relevant to the context and audience. They should be accurate, effective and informative and should be developed in consultation with people with dementia, their families and other stakeholders, including civil society.

(Jokeful)Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer’s research.

This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with voluptuous bodies and high level of libidos and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

Let’s join hands together, learn more about Alzheimers, and spread more awareness among our families, neighbours & friends. After all, besides having family members who are old, we ourselves are on the same aging path anyway.

September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day

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