Dementia Not a Disease: Anyone and Everyone Can Experience it

April, 2019

Dementia can happen to any individual or gender irrespective of social or education class, and it can also affect people who are active and intelligent. The cause can vary, people may also have a combination of two or more different types of dementia, which is most common in older adults. Life with dementia is a great task for the individual suffering with the condition as well as the family caregivers. The patients have memory loss, severe mental complications, behavioral changes, and changes in the mood which has impacted their relationships and social network. Globally it is estimated that more than 50 million individuals are suffering with the condition at present and is likely to triple by 2050, making it a global crisis. According to report published by Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), India houses nearly 4.4 million individuals suffering with some form of dementia. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh alone are expected to have more than 5,00,000 patients by 2026.

Currently, 3.7% of elderly population in India is suffering from this condition. However, dementia is not restricted to the elders. It is noticed that 4–8% of dementia population in India is the younger generation people. Yet, most of the population is undiagnosed. Only 1 in every 10 individuals are diagnosed, while the rest are undiagnosed and does not receive any treatment and care.

The Barriers for Better Care

  • Lack of human resources

  • Economic impact

  • Lack of awareness

One of the disadvantages in the Indian society is that most of the care is done at home care settings without any proper support or care. There is an extremely poor awareness in the society due to the misinformation, myths, and social stigma. Also, the help from the healthcare providers is extremely limited. There is just about 2 psychiatrists present for every 10,00,000 Indians. It is estimated that the total specialists available for the 1.35 billion Indian population can fit in less than two basketball courts. The report of ARDSI which is endorsed by NIMHANS has estimated that the cost burden of care for 4.4 million people as $2.3 billion (INR 160 billion) every year. In view of economic situation of India and the minimal spending in public healthcare it will be an inflated concern.

Another most important barrier which arises when employing facilities for dementia are low human resource capacity for the care of those suffering from this progressive condition. The shortage of neurology and psychology specialists for all dementia care and management has hampered in providing better care.

The alarming increase in the prevalence rate of dementia has made it as one of the high priority research by government and other related healthcare establishments. The absence of suitable and long-term elder-friendly caregiving services in India is a huge worry. Government and private sectors, along with non-profit organizations ought to take dynamic steps to intensify, progress, and uphold the long-term caring services for elder people. Nevertheless, for active management of dementia, it is very much required to empower the healthcare providers and specialists with latest skills and knowledge. The contribution of communal healthcare and insurance sector in this effort will develop a complete elderly healthcare service along with dementia care and management in due course of time.

– Rikitha Murthi
Healthcare - Research Analyst
Infoholic Research