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Panaji: September 21 is observed as World Alzheimer Day to spread awareness about the seriousness of Alzheimer and Dementia. This year’s theme is ‘let’s talk about dementia’.
“With the demographic transition, the numbers of people with dementia are rising very rapidly in the low and middle income countries such as India. There are an estimated 4 million people with dementia in India. What is worse is that due to stigma and lack of awareness more than 90 % of the people with dementia in India, do not even get a diagnosis and grapple with the condition in confusion and this adversely affects the life of the person with dementia as well as the caregivers,” stated Dr Amit Dias, a senior faculty at the department of Preventive & Social Medicine at the Goa Medical College, in the Dementia India Report. Dr Dias was also a member of the Lancet Commission Report and Indian representative that reported on the impact of COVID-19 on people with dementia and suggested strategies for risk reduction.
Emphasising the problems faced by people living with dementia during the lockdown Dr Dias stated, “The COVID-19 lockdown has affected the elderly and many of them are confined to their homes and this is even worse for those with dementia. For some caregivers in Goa, the lockdown gave the caregivers an opportunity to spend quality time with their loved ones. While there were others who were separated from family and this increased the caregivers stress, loneliness, and behavioural problems.”
“People with dementia may sometimes struggle to adhere to measures to prevent the virus transmission, as they might not understand or remember about required changes to behaviour, such as physical distancing and hygiene, leading to increased risk to themselves and their carers. They might additionally be vulnerable as they depend on others for daily activities or personal care, as this necessitates close personal contact,” he stated.
With one new case of dementia occurring every three seconds in the world, there is a need for collective action at all levels on a war footing to deal with the growing burden of dementia.