The Human brain is a complex and fascinating living machine that consists of thousands of neurons that are responsible for transmitting information to other nerve cells, muscles and gland cells in the body. Accumulation of certain fragments of protein (beta-amyloid) both inside and outside the neurons leads to changes in the brain structure, such as damage and death of neurons (referred to as neuro-degeneration) which is associated with the Alzheimer’s disease.
While Dementia is an umbrella term for a particular groups of symptoms, characterized by difficulties in memory, language, problem-solving and other cognitive skills which affects a persons day to day activities; Alzheimer's is one of the most common causes of dementia,
accounting for about 60-80% of the cases. It is a progressive and irreversible brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and reduces the thinking capacity of an individual. Symptoms of Alzheimer's vary from difficulty in remembering recent conversations, events, or names as well as apathy and depression. However, later symptoms include impaired communication, confusion, disorientation, difficulty in speaking, swallowing, and even walking.
While the actual cause of Alzheimer’s is not known, there are a number of risk factors that increase the likelihood of it:
Age. Old population above the age of 60 are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s
Gender. Women are more likely than men to develop it.
Heredity predisposition. The presence of certain defective genes and genetic mutations within families increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Malfunction or imbalance of protein in the brain
Approximately 44 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer's disease or a related form of dementia. To raise awareness about the disease and challenge the stigma around it, ADI (Alzheimer’s Disease International) announced September as the “World Alzheimer’s Month” in 2012. And the World Alzheimer's day is on 21st September every year.
With all stigmatization and misinformation around dementia, the annual Alzheimer’s month is viewed as an opportunity for people and organizations to demonstrate how to overcome these issues and help people live well with dementia. The year 2020 marks the 9th year for the World Alzheimers month and the theme for this year is ‘Let's talk about dementia'.
Since Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias seriously impact a person’s ability to carry out daily activities, it is important to raise awareness about it and one of the first steps toward raising awareness is educating people about the facts concerning the progression of the
illness as well as the statistics and its impact on the older population across the globe.
Some facts include:
- Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that slowly progresses with age. Though it is more common in older people — above the age of 60 — it can at times show up between the ages of 30 and 60 (early-onset Alzheimer’s).
- There are over 50 million people around the world living with dementia.
- The cost of treating and caring for Alzheimer's patients is very high and is bound to rise to $1.1 trillion if doctors are unable to slow or prevent the disease.
- According to ADI, every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia,
- Approximately 132 million people are expected to be diagnosed with it by 2050.
- It is ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
To tackle this global challenge of dementia and Alzheimer’s, it is important that we must work together and collaborate to break the silence around dementia.
- Myupchar. (2019). 21 September is World Alzheimer's Day: Here'S what you need to know about this disease. Retrieved from: https://www.firstpost.com/health/21-september-is-world-alzheimers-day-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-this-disease-7369941.html
- Murphy,O (2020). World Alzheimer’s Month. Retrieved from: https://www.humansupportgroup.co.uk/world-alzheimers-month/
- Alzheimer's Association. (2020). 2020 Alzheimer's disease facts and figures. Alzheimer's & Dementia. Retrieved from: https://alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/alz.12068