LIFE

Alzheimer's cases to double over next 20 years

With addition of 4.6 million new cases every year, the number of people affected by Alzheimer's disease or dementia is expected to double in next 20 years.

Talking to Anadolu Agency on eve of the World Alzheimer's Day on Sept. 21, Emine Özmete, head of the Center of Ageing Studies Implementation and Research at Ankara University, said that there are 50 million people currently suffering from Alzheimer in the world. The numbers are expected to grow beyond 80 million by 2040.

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually affects the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

Özmete said that the disease is the most common type of dementia which is a time-dependent progressive brain disorder that affects daily activities.

She said that Alzheimer's leads to early death of healthy brain cells, affecting memory as well as various mental and behavioral disorders.

"Alzheimer's disease is becoming more common as aging population increases in the world," she said.

Özmete, who is also professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences of Ankara University, said the number of deaths due to Alzheimer's disease has increased incrementally in Turkey.

"In our country, 6,155 people died of Alzheimer's disease in 2011, while this number increased to 11,997 in 2015. In 2017, 13,601 elderly people died due to Alzheimer's. Of these, 5,023 were men and 8,366 were women," she said.

The professor said that the disease is more prevalent among women due to host of factors. Also, because the women comparatively live longer than men, they face more issues related to aging.

Özmete said that disorders such as excessive stress, sedentary lifestyle, depression, circulatory system diseases and diabetes also trigger Alzheimer's disease.

She also said that at times, it is often difficult to diagnose the disease as the symptoms vary from person to person, depending on lifestyle and cultural accumulation.

Broadly enumerating symptoms, she said, they could be memory problems affecting daily life, having difficulties in planning and calculation, disruptions in work and home tasks, time and space confusions, difficulty in perception of images, weakening of speech and understanding, difficulty in decision making, personality and behavior disorder as well as physical and mental function loss.

She, however, emphasized that not every amnesia in daily life should be interpreted as Alzheimer's disease.

"Forgetting where you are and not finding the way home when you are outside are one of the most important symptoms of Alzheimer's," she said.

Admitting that the full treatment of Alzheimer's is not possible, Özmete said the early diagnosis and treatment can improve the quality of life of the patient.

She said that the medication cannot bring to halt but certainly slow destruction of brain cells.

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