5-8 million Indians suffering from Alzheimer’s

by Aditya Kumar

On World Alzheimer’s Day, healthcare experts in India highlighted the increasing number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the country. Estimates suggest that between 5.3 million and 8.2 million people in India are affected by this chronic disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that primarily affects older individuals, particularly those in their mid-60s. It is characterized by the slow deterioration of brain cells, leading to memory loss, a decline in thinking abilities, and the inability to carry out simple tasks. Over time, these brain cells degenerate and die, causing the destruction of memory and other vital functions.

The theme for this year’s Alzheimer’s Day is “Never too early, Never too late,” emphasizing the importance of identifying the factors that contribute to this disease and taking preventive measures to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Organizations around the world gather on this day to raise awareness about the condition and generate funds for research.

Alzheimer’s patients often experience pain, but with proper care and support, this pain can be effectively managed. The life expectancy for individuals with Alzheimer’s is approximately 8-10 years, although this can vary depending on the age of diagnosis. In some cases, the disease can progress for 15-20 years. Purple is the symbolic color associated with Alzheimer’s awareness, and it is also the most common cause of dementia.

India has managed to curb the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s to some extent due to the use of curcumin, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that help fight the disease. However, since 2005, the number of cases of Alzheimer’s has surpassed dementia in the country.

One of the misconceptions surrounding Alzheimer’s is that it only affects older individuals. In reality, around 5% of people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s can develop this disease as an early sign. Alzheimer’s is not an inevitable part of aging, and it can significantly impact a person’s ability to eat, talk, and perform daily tasks. While there are medications available to help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, there is currently no cure or way to stop the progression of the disease.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s involves clinical assessment and various imaging tests, such as PET scans, CT scans, or MRI scans. There are no specific blood tests available in India to determine the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, psychological evaluations are performed to assess any related conditions, such as depression, that may contribute to the individual’s symptoms. Regular check-ups with doctors are essential for individuals experiencing memory problems.

The abnormal accumulation of proteins in and around brain cells is one of the leading causes of Alzheimer’s. Proteins like amyloid form plaques around brain cells, while another protein called tau forms tangles within the cells. Seeking support, taking regular breaks, maintaining a healthy diet, and joining caregiver support groups are all helpful strategies for aging individuals with Alzheimer’s.

Lifestyle factors, such as social engagement, quality of sleep, level of physical activity, and a nutritious diet, can also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. While adopting a healthy lifestyle can potentially reduce the risk, it cannot guarantee a permanent cure. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize self-care practices, as recommended by healthcare professionals.

On World Alzheimer’s Day, let us raise awareness and support individuals and families affected by this debilitating disease. Through education, research, and empathy, we can work towards finding a cure and improving the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s.

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