Life expectancy in India has gone up by almost 69 per cent because of medical advances and the population of the aged is also increasing.
This is causing a spurt in age-related memory disorders, mainly Alzeimer's dementia or memory loss.
“It is shocking that in India, we have an aged population of nine crore, of which 3.7 crore suffer from dementia,” said Dr Narendra Saini, president, Delhi Medical Association.
“What is shocking is that for a population the size of a smaller European country that is affected by dementia, the concept of memory clinics is non-existent,” he said.
In such situation, it springs no surprise that the national capital has only a couple of dedicated memory clinics complete with a neurologist, psychiatrist, sociologist and social worker to help the dementia patients.
“There’s one at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the other is run by the NGO Alzeimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARSDI) in Kailash Hills,” said Sailesh Mishra, president of NGO Silver Innings, working for the welfare of senior citizens. “Delhi needs more such memory clinics, especially with such a fast growing old population.”
“For those above 60 years, the chances of developing dementia is 1 in 20 and for those above 80 years, the chances are 1 in 5,” said Dr Jacob Roy, National Chairperson of ARSDI.
According to Dr Roy, very little attention is being given to brain health in India.
“It is essential to control diabetes and hypertension. Good food, exercise, no smoking and engagement in meaningful activities is needed to fight dementia,” he said.
Brain exercise is extremely essential to keep the mind positive and active, said experts.
“It is wrong to assume that only the very old develop dementia. World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics show that people as young as 40 years may also develop memory problems,” said Dr Daisy Acosta, chairperson of Alzeimer’s Disease International, who was in Delhi with other experts to draw up a national dementia strategy for India.
“When ever you notice you are suffering from memory problems, it is important you immediately consult a neurologist as memory can be tested. Memory can be measured,” she said.