Senior citizens attending a talk on ‘Dementia’ by Fortis Doc at Sunny Enclave

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Contrary to general belief, one in 10 people over 65 years of age, and over half of those over 85 have Alzheimer’s disease, says Dr Prabhakar

NewZNew (S A S Nagar) : Residents of Sunny Enclave today attended an awareness lecture on ‘Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease’, organized by Fortis Hospital Mohali.

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Throwing light on the subject, Dr Sudesh Prabhakar, Director – Neurology, said, “Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning – remembering, reasoning and behavioral abilities, to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.”

As the disease progresses, brain cells die and connections among cells are lost. “Dementia ranges in severity – from the mild stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the severe stage, when the person depends completely on others for basic activities of daily living. People often think Alzheimer’s disease is not common. But statistics say though not all memory loss is Alzheimer’s disease, one in ten people over 65 years of age, and over half of those over 85 have Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr Prabhakar said.

He added that there are very clear signs of the disease, and that people shouldn’t ignore them. “Schedule an appointment with your neurologist. Early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is an important step to getting the right treatment, care and support,” he advised. Once the doctor has detected the overall health, he may consult the patient to either a neurologist, a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

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The risk factors for Alzheimer’s include age, family history & genetics and lifestyle factors. “With early detection, you can get maximum benefit from available treatments, have more time to plan for the future and get help for you and your loved ones,” the doctor said.

He also suggested ways of reducing the risk of getting the disease. “It has been observed that those with higher levels of formal education, a stimulating job, spend time doing mentally challenging leisure activities, such as reading, playing games or playing a musical instrument and attend frequent social interactions have a lower risk,” Dr Prabhakar said.

Although current medications cannot cure Alzheimer’s or stop it from progressing, they may help lessen symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, for a limited time. That’s why current approaches in treatment and research focus on several different aspects, including helping people maintain mental function, managing behavioral symptoms, and slowing or delaying the symptoms of disease.

Warning signs (BOX)

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing; naming people or things
  • Misplacing things
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
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•        Changes in mood and personality

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