According to World Health Organization (WHO), dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in cognitive function.
This inability to process thought is more than what is expected from normal ageing because it affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement.
Here are 14 facts about dementia:
1. The impairment in cognitive function is commonly accompanied, and occasionally preceded, by deterioration in emotional control, social behaviour, or motivation.
2. Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease or stroke.
3. Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. It can be overwhelming, not only for the people who have it, but also for their carers and families.
4. There are three stages of dementia. Early stage that includes forgetfulness, losing track of time and becoming lost in familiar places. Signs of the middle stage includes becoming forgetful of recent events and people's names, becomuing lost at home and needing help with personal care, among others. Late stage dementia patients would become unaware of the time and place, have difficulty recognising relatives and friends, have an increasing need for assisted self-care and have difficulty walking.
5. Although dementia can be in many forms, Alzheimer disease is the most common form and may contribute to 60–70 per cent of cases.
6. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (abnormal aggregates of protein that develop inside nerve cells), and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia (degeneration of the frontal lobe of the brain). The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.
7. Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia, with nearly 60 per cent living in low- and middle-income countries.
8. Every year, there are nearly 10 million new cases.
9. The estimated proportion of the general population aged 60 and over with dementia at a given time is between 5-8 per cent.
10. The total number of people with dementia is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050. Much of this increase is attributable to the rising numbers of people with dementia living in low- and middle-income countries.
11. 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.
12.Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing.
13. Dementia does not exclusively affect older people – young onset dementia (defined as the onset of symptoms before the age of 65 years) accounts for up to 9 per cent of cases.
14. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
By Jenny Imanina Lanong Abdullah and Murni Nasri
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