12 April 2012
By Kounteya Sinha
Jaipur In dia
Nearly 3.7 million people in India are suffering from dementia, and this number is set to double over the next 20 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Worldwide, nearly 35.6 million people live with dementia. This number is expected to double by 2030 (65.7 million) and more than triple by 2050 (115.4 million). There are 7.7 million new cases of dementia each year — a new case is being detected somewhere in the world in every four seconds.
Dementia is a syndrome, usually of a chronic nature, caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, and possibly contributes to up to 70% of cases.
Dementia affects people in all countries, with more than half (58%) living in low– and middle–income countries. By 2050, this is likely to rise to more than 70%. 70% caregivers for dementia patients in India are women
Jaipur: The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that worldwide, nearly 35.6 million people live with dementia. This number is expected to double by 2030 (65.7 million) and more than triple by 2050 (115.4 million).
Along with this count goes up the social and financial burden associated with care for those with dementia. Around 70% of caregivers for dementia patients in Indian households are women.
Globally, the cost for treatment and care for dementia patients is being pegged at more than $604 billion annually. This includes the cost of providing social and healthcare as well the reduction or loss of income for dementia patients and their caregivers.
A new report — ‘Dementia: A Public Health Priority’ — published by the WHO, recommends improving early diagnosis, raising public awareness about the disease and reducing stigma and providing better care and more support to caregivers.
Lack of diagnosis is a major problem. Even in high–income countries, only one–fifth to one half of cases of dementia are routinely recognized, says WHO. And when a diagnosis is made, it often comes at a relatively late stage of the disease. “We need to increase our capacity to detect dementia early. Healthcare workers are often not adequately trained to recognize dementia,” says WHO’s Dr Oleg Chestnov.
WHO warns that India, which is witnessing a greying population, will face serious problems in tackling the disease. “The government of India has begun to realize the extent of the situation and the need to establish dementia–sensitive services. The next few years will see the establishment of the National Institute of Ageing, and special provisions for people with dementia in the National Policy for Older People and the National Mental Health Programme,” the report says.
Dementia mainly affects older people, mostly above 65 years. Particularly rapid increases in the numbers and proportions of older people are forecast for China, India and Latin America. By 2050, people aged 60 and above will account for 22% of the world’s population, four–fifths living in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The report adds, “It is estimated that by 2050 the world population over 60 years will be 2 billion.”
Around 2%–10% of all cases of dementia start before 65 years. The prevalence doubles with every five–year increment after 65 years. Dementia is one of the major causes of disability in old age. It accounts for 11.9% of the years lived with disability due to a noncommunicable disease and is the leading cause for dependency (need for care) and disability among senior citizens.
WHO said nearly 142 million people in the southeast Asia region are above 60 years. The number of aged people will double by 2025, and triple by 2050 compared to 2000. The average life expectancy in most countries in the region will be above 75 years by 2050. Overall, nearly 7.5% of India’s population is 60 years and above. In rural India, 7.5% people are aged 60+, while in urban India the corresponding figure is 7%.
According to the 2006 World Population Prospects, India’s 80+ population will increase more than six times from the existing 78 lakh to about 5.14 crore by 2050. Now, 20% of this category suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. The 65+ population is expected to quadruple from 6.4 crore in 2005 to 23.9 crore, while those aged 60+ will increase from 8.4 crore to 33.5 crore over the next 43 years.