750,000 Iranians suffering from dementia

September 21, 2019

TEHRAN – Some 750,000 people are diagnosed with dementia nationwide, Masoomeh Salehi, head of the Dementia and Alzheimer’s Association has announced.

Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Salehi made the remarks on the occasion of September 21, World Alzheimer's Day, which was held with the theme of ‘raising awareness and challenging stigma’.
“Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from normal ageing; so this what make it different with Alzheimer’s,” she explained.

She went on to add that it affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement, but not consciousness.
Referring to Alzheimer’s constituting up to 80 percent of dementia, she noted that early interventions can highly prevent the disease’s progress and patients can be treated if undergo early diagnosis.

“However, Alzheimer’s is almost incurable and only can be controlled to some extent,” she noted, ISNA reported on Saturday.
Early detection of Alzheimer’s each year can delay up to five years of symptoms or complications, she said, adding, Alzheimer's is caused by the loss of brain cells occurring in people over the age of 60. 

Therefore, Alzheimer’s happens during the aging process; however, dementia can be caused by genetic problems and occur at earlier ages, she added.

“Last year, some 700,000 Iranians have developed dementia while the number reached up to 750,000 this year,” she regretted.

Referring to the Dementia and Alzheimer’s Association, she explained that about 8,000 people have become members of the Alzheimer's society over the past years, 2,500 of whom are currently active members. 

“With measures taken to raise awareness, our members have grown dramatically since the establishment of the association, but there is still a need for more information and public participation,” Salehi added.

At the Association’s rehabilitation and day care center, patients receive rehabilitation services, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and other non-pharmacological treatments six hours a day, she noted.

Although the medicines are not a curable treatment, it is essential to control the disease, she said, adding, over the past few years, there have been problems with medicine supply due to sanctions, which fortunately have been removed, but the effect of sanctions cannot be denied.

Although the Ministry of Health did not cooperate well with the Association in the early years, but since the last three years that the National Dementia Document was drafted by the Association and submitted to the Ministry of Health, joint meetings were held between the related organizations such as the Welfare Organization and the municipality which contributed to dementia certificate development, she concluded.

Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia, with nearly 60 percent living in low- and middle-income countries. Every year, there are nearly 10 million new cases, according to World Health Organization.

The estimated proportion of the general population aged 60 and over with dementia at a given time is between 5-8 percent.

The total number of people with dementia is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050. Much of this increase is attributable to the rising numbers of people with dementia living in low- and middle-income countries.

Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease or stroke.

Dementia has significant social and economic implications in terms of direct medical and social care costs, and the costs of informal care. In 2015, the total global societal cost of dementia was estimated to be US$ 818 billion, equivalent to 1.1 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). The total cost as a proportion of GDP varied from 0.2 percent in low- and middle-income countries to 1. 4 percent in high-income countries.

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