Alzheimer's Disease in India Consultancy Service

If you have a project, contact us for advice at

Join our Family Caregivers, Volunteers and Care Professionals on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Alzheimer's Disease in India : misconceptions, symptoms, needs of the caregivers... by Nitin J. Bahuguna, 2002.

"Alzheimer's - Grey Menace"

by Nitin Jugran Bahuguna

"In the absence of any known cure, Alzheimer's disease, a debilitating malaise that afflicts the elderly, continues to be regarded as the most dreaded manifestation of ageing.

Alzheimer's inspires many fears and misconceptions. Anxious queries about the disease range from the normal "Is it a mental disease, is it hereditary or is it the result of normal ageing", to the more ludicrous "Are past life events responsible for the onset of Alzheimer's disease".

Relatively little is known about Alzheimer's in India; and doctors here caution that people must now sit up and take notice of a disease which, according to one estimate, kills one out of four Indians over the age of 80. Without getting into the numbers game, Dr Kalyan Bagchi, President of the Society for Gerontological Research, a Delhi-based NGO, says, "It is quite possible that today, there may be thousands of patients totally undetected and undiagnosed."

Seema Puri, senior lecturer (her PhD work is related to gerontology) at the Institute of Home Economics, Delhi University, describes Alzheimer's as a condition of unknown origin that causes a gradual loss of abilities in memory, thinking, reasoning, orientation and concentration. It is not the
result of ageing but it does occur more frequently in persons 65 years of age or older, she explains.

The early stage of Alzheimer's is often overlooked and incorrectly labeled both by professionals as well as by family and friends as "old age" or a normal part of the ageing process. In an illustrative case, a 69-year-old retired Colonel in south Delhi started exhibiting moody behavior, alternating between bouts of animation and depression. His family however, attributed what they felt were temper tantrums to the onset of advancing years. They realized something was wrong only when he began to show signs of disorientation and uncharacteristic behavior which included cracking inappropriate jokes before guests.

Dr Bagchi explains that Alzheimer's affects each patient in a different way. The symptoms can broadly include difficulties with language, significant short-term memory loss, time disorientation, difficulty in making decisions, showing signs of depression and aggression and lack of initiative and motivation.

In the case of the retired Colonel, he started referring to the calendar to remember dates and had major gaps in memory. Most of his behavioral problems began in the evenings when he fell into a state of cognitive decline or dementia.

Dementia is defined as the loss of intellectual functions severe enough to interfere with an individual's daily function. Dementia is not a disease in itself but a group of symptoms that may appear in certain diseases or conditions; Alzheimer's is the most common among such conditions.

With the rapid increase of the grey population in India, Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia are becoming more prevalent among the elderly. Life expectancy has gone up from 20 years at the beginning of the 20th century to 62 years today, says Ms Nidhi Raj Kapoor of the Delhi-based NGO, HelpAge India. At present, India has an ageing population of 77 million; by 2025, the country will have 177 million elderly people.

Creating mass awareness about this tragic condition can help detect Alzheimer's at an early stage and create avenues for appropriate support and care to patients, says Dr Bagchi. The Society for Gerontological Research (SGR) has taken a concrete step in this direction with the recent launch of a publication titled 'Alzheimer's Disease in India".


Many thanks to of 23 July, 2011.

No comments: