Some 750,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in the Islamic Republic, according to Masoumeh Salehi, the managing director of Iran Alzheimer Association, a nongovernmental organization.
“Every three seconds someone develops dementia in the world,” Ms. Salehi was quoted by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) of saying on World Alzheimer Day. “There were 700,000 elderly Iranians affected by dementia last year. That number has increased by 50,000 so far this year. Close to 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s in the world of which 750,000 are Iranians.”
Salehi noted: “Close to 70 percent of those affected by dementia develop Alzheimer’s. Early diagnosis and treatment of dementia could slow down and even reverse the process. However, Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible and not curable. Early diagnosis could help doctors to control the disease more effectively and prevent any secondary illnesses caused by Alzheimer.”
“As with other types of dementia, Alzheimer occurs when brain cells die,” Salehi explained. “While most people develop Alzheimer’s after the age of 80, some get the disease in their 60s. Sometimes a person’s genetic composition causes the disease to develop at a much younger age.”
“Most people who get Alzheimer’s are 85 and older,” Mina Karami, a clinical psychologist, was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as saying. “Individuals with specific genetic composition could get the disease when they are in their 40s and 50s.”
“Lack of exercise, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, social isolation and a diet lacking in vegetables and fruits are contributing factors to the development of Alzheimer’s,” Karimi noted. “The elderly must look after their brains and minds in the same way they care for their bodies by visiting their doctors for annual checkups.”
If current projections are correct, IRNA said, Alzheimer’s dementia will pose a severe challenge to Iranian society and the country’s health system in the next 30 years.
September 21 marks World Alzheimer Day, an international campaign aimed at raising greater awareness about the disease and challenging stigmas attached to various types of dementia, particularly Alzheimer, which affects approximately 50 million people worldwide.
This #WorldAlzheimersDay we're breaking the stigma surrounding dementia, for those affected today and in the future.
Many people believe dementia is part of getting old. It's not. Myths like this only make stigma worse.
— Alzheimer's Society (@alzheimerssoc) September 21, 2019
That number could increase to 135 million by 2050, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries. The report added that while only three percent of people aged between 65 and 69 would develop Alzheimer’s, more than 30 percent of those affected are 85 and older.
The data also showed that nearly 80 percent of reported Alzheimer’s cases involved people who cared for a family member affected by the disease. It said half of carers suffered from depression, which prompted family members and relatives to share the responsibility of looking after their loved ones who live with Alzheimer.
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]