It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement. Consciousness is not affected.
The impairment in cognitive function is commonly accompanied, and occasionally preceded, by deterioration in emotional control, social behaviour, or motivation. Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke.
Dr Kaustubh Joag, Psychiatrist from Pune, said, “Alzheimer is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. It is overwhelming not only for the people who have it, but also for their carers and families. There is often a lack of awareness and understanding of Alzheimer, resulting in stigmatisation and barriers to diagnosis and care.”
Dr Tejali Chavan, another psychiatrist from Pune, said, “Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. Some research has shown a relationship between the development of cognitive impairment and life-style related risk factors that are shared with other non-communicable diseases.”
Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are:
These risk factors include physical inactivity, obesity, unhealthy diets, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol, diabetes, and midlife hypertension.
Additional potentially modifiable risk factors include depression, low educational attainment, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity.
Preventive measures suggested by experts:
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
- Good sleep
- Stress management
- Social mingling
- Stop smoking
- Learn new things