ISLAMABAD: Dementia has become a priority health issue worldwide. It is a term used for diseases and conditions characterised by a decline in a person’s memory, language, problem solving and other thinking skills. The individual suffering from it faces difficulties in performing everyday activities. Certain changes also occur in the brain which lead to the ultimate loss of nerve cells. Various developed countries are taking steps to raise awareness about dementia. Research studies indicate that the people with dementia in developing countries are expected to rise by 71% by 2050. In countries like Pakistan the speed of aging is faster and there is a lack of awareness of dementia and its symptoms. Most people attribute the condition to a range of factors, such as doing too much work, stress, shock, social isolation and in more extreme cases such as black magic. These misconceptions lead to misunderstandings about care and prognosis. Worst of all is the stigma associated with this disease like any other mental health problems. It is considered as something occurring as a result of normal aging process, and traumatic events, stressors or physical weaknesses. Such misleading concepts impact adversely these people’s struggle to cope with their condition.
Research is needed in Pakistan to identify people’s understanding of dementia so as to advocate for the most effective policies and to provide services to people with dementia and their caregivers. Most importantly, a national campaign should be launched in the country to raise awareness about dementia. These plans and policies should be capable enough to address the problem in a way tailored to our unique culture and demographics of Pakistan.
In the beginning, dementia causes only a temporary loss of memory. If notice is not taken in time and is left without proper care, it might result in total loss of memory.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2019.