Ageing and Alzheimer’s disease

Ageing and Alzheimer’s disease

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I went to invite a person for delivering guest lecture on Values and Ethics in Human life. Though I talked through phone, I was supposed to go, meet and officially give letter to the member of Ramachandra mission in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. I was really shocked the voice which I heard over phone and the person who is sitting before me was not matching. The voice was so young, out of wonder I told him that sir I was thinking that you might be young when talked to you through phone. With laughing he said I am just 28 and you can reverse it. Then I said him sir, the class is in the third floor,  he replied; not a problem I can climb even 5th floor. We were just discussing about why we have this course and his earlier experiences. I thanked him and took leave from his office. So many thoughts were going on that how can he be so strong and remember many experiences in this age. As I read and know that during old age cognitive abilities get declined and Alzheimer’s disease occurs. Then I started surfing about old age. I found many who achieved during their old age like at the age of 74 years Baburao Kisan Hazare best known as Anna Hazare started anti-corruption movement in the year 2011 by following the Non-violent method and became internationally famous. At the age of 72 years Ram Nath Kovind, became the 14th President of India. At the age of 62 Harland David Sanders franchised his secret recipe “Kentucky Fried Chicken(KFC)” for the first time, to Pete Harman of South Salt Lake, Utah, the operator of one of that largest restaurants all over the globe. There are many significant others name who became famous during their old age.

According to 2016 report by the Ministry for Statistics and Programme Implementation, India has 103.9 million elderly, people above age 60, about 8.5 per cent of the population. These numbers are reliant on the 2011 census. The elderly population has grown at about 3.5 per cent per year, double the rate for the population as a whole; a 2014 report by the non-profit HelpAge India shows that while India will be the youngest country in the world by 2020, by 2050, as many as 325 million people, or 20 per cent of the population, will be ‘elderly’. While the overall population of India will have grown by about 40 per cent between 2006 and 2050.

Life expectancy is the number of years that will probably be lived by the average person born in a particular year.  According to the latest WHO data published in 2018 life expectancy in India is: Male 67.4, female 70.3 and total life expectancy is 68.8 which gives India a World Life Expectancy ranking of 125. Though the life expectancy is increasing what are the facilities, care and the quality life we are providing to the elderly is another point to think of.

Life expectancy of elderly Male Female Total World Rank
India 67.4 70.3 68.8 125
China 75 77.9 76.4 51
Japan 81.1 87.1 84.2 1
Pakistan 65.7 67.4 66.5 133
Nepal 68.8 71.6 70.2 117
Sri Lanka 72.1 78.5 75.3 70

Data Source: WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION 2017

The above table shows the life expectancy of our neighboring countries and ours too. It also shows the sex difference. The sex difference in longevity is influenced by biological factors. In virtually all species, females outlive males. Women have more resistance to infections and degenerative diseases. For example, the female’s estrogen production helps to protect her from arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). And the additional X chromosome that women carry in comparison to Men may be associated with the production of more antibodies to fight off disease.

The Japanese have the highest life expectancy of any major country. The Japanese can live 75 of those years disability free and fully healthy, according to the World Health Organization. What is responsible for such longevity in Japan?

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Dementia is a global term for any neurological disorder in which the primary symptoms involve a deterioration of mental functioning    . Individuals with dementia often lose the ability to care for themselves and can lose the ability to recognize familiar surroundings and people –including family members. It is estimated that 23 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men 85 years and older are at risk of developing dementia (Alzheimer’s Association, 2010).

 Alzheimer’s disease
One form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease – a progressive, irreversible brain disorder that is characterized by a gradual deterioration of memory, reasoning, language and eventually, physical function. In India, more than 4 million people have some form of dementia. Worldwide, at least 44 million people are living with dementia, making the disease a global health crisis that must be addressed. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is life changing for the person with the disease, as well as their family and friends, but information and support are available. No one has to face Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia alone.

According to the latest WHO data published in 2017 Alzheimer’s/Dementia Deaths in India reached 126,731 or 1.44% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 14.57 per 100,000 of population ranks India #124 in the world. We can see compare the death rates due to dementia with our neighbor countries.

Alzheimer’s/ Dementia Deaths Percentage Rate World rank
India 1,26,731 1.44 14.57 124
China 32,812 3.35 19.87 73
Japan 31,497 2.93 7.22 158
Pakistan 15,428 1.27 15.35 112
Nepal 3,689 2.26 20.52 67
Sri Lanka 4,006 3.16 18.69 85

Data Source: WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION 2017

 Understanding Alzheimer’s disease — Symptoms
There are three main phases of Alzheimer’s: mild, moderate, and severe. Each stage has its own set of symptoms.

Mild Stage Moderate Stage Severe stage
  • The first stage usually lasts from 2 to 4 years.
  • Having less energy and drive to do things
  • Less interest in work and social activities and spending more time just sitting, watching TV, or sleeping
  • Loss of recent memories, like forgetting conversations and events that just happened
  • Mild coordination problems, such as trouble writing or using familiar objects.
  • Trouble with driving, like getting lost on familiar routes
  • This stage can last from 2 to 10 years.
  • Rambling speech
  • Trouble coming up with the right words and         using the wrong ones
  • A hard time planning or solving problems
  • Not dressing for the weather
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Wandering
  • Delusions, such as thinking a caregiver is trying to hurt him

 

  • It typically lasts 1 to 3 years.
  • Major confusion about what’s in the past and what’s happening now
  • Problems with swallowing and control of their bladder and bowels
  • Weight loss, seizures, skin infections, and other illnesses
  • Extreme mood swings.

 

Use it or lose it
Changes in the brain or the cognitive abilities occurs due to disuse and consequent atrophy of cognitive skills. The mental activities that likely benefit the maintenance of cognitive skills in older adults are activities such as reading books, doing crossword puzzles, and going to lectures and concerts.  Engage in more cognitive related activities and keep the Alzheimer’s away from you.

Myths and Facts about Alzheimer’s:

Source: Alzheimer’s society Canada (2017)

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Amruta Malatesh Gonal
Teaching Associate Dept. Human Development and Family Studies
College of Home Science, Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University,
Guntur, Andhra Pradesh-522006

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