The Beautiful Mind: Understanding Alzheimer ’s Disease in Pakistan

Alzheimer's Disease in Pakistan | Dawaai Blog

Barbarino, 2018

Want to learn about the prevalence of dementia in Pakistan? Here’s everything you need to know about Alzheimer’s disease in Pakistan.

The brain is our existence’s beautiful center that gives meaning to every sunrise and every sunset. From building bonds with family to understanding every walk of life, it is a beautiful mess that helps us make sense, makes us cry, laugh, and love. You walk into a world that is colorful. But do you know there are people, who despite making a million colorful memories in their lifetime, walk out of life and the world is all grey?

What is Alzheimer’s Disease in Pakistan?

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological ailment that affects the brain, causing brain cells to die and resulting in significant memory loss and cognitive function impairment. This causes a loss of connectivity between nerve cells, making information transfer to different sections of the brain more difficult. Though symptoms normally begin slowly, they can quickly intensify.

Alzheimer’s disease in Pakistan and around the world is the most common type of dementia. Being the sixth most populated country in the world, the prevelence of Alzheimer’s disease in Pakistan is estimated to be in around 150,000–200,000 patients as of 2020. It mainly affects persons over the age of 65, while about 10% of instances include people under the age of 65. This is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s. It is crucial to highlight that, while some memory loss is typical as we age, Alzheimer’s disease is not.

Agespace, 2021

Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease in Pakistan

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still unknown, although researchers have found some significant risk factors, which include:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Family History
  • Head injury

Remember, that having a risk factor does not imply that you will acquire Alzheimer’s. It simply indicates that you are more susceptible than a person who does not have these risk factors.

Drbernhart, 2020)

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease impairs cognitive function in the brain and can lead patients to lose their ability to conduct daily tasks. The most prevalent symptom is memory loss, which can affect a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Scheduling appointments
  • Forgetting about known individuals
  • Suspicious and diminished trust of friends, family, and caregivers
  • Forgetting events
  • Difficulties with everyday activities
  • Disorientation about place and time
  • Altered judgments
  • Personality changes
  • Reduced social involvement

What is the most effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s, however, there are things you can do to help symptoms and delay the progression of Alzheimer’s. There are a series of medications, for example, Aducanumab, which your doctor can prescribe to help memory and delay the production of glutamate in your brain, which damages and kills brain cells. Antidepressants, anxiety drugs, and antipsychotics may also be prescribed by doctors to aid with symptoms such as agitation, depression, hallucinations, and others. Some doctors also recommend taking vitamin E to help with Alzheimer’s.

How can you exercise your brain?

  • Try puzzles.
  • Play cards.
  • Build vocabulary.
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Teach a skill.
  • Listen to music.

What are the foods that fight memory loss?

(Rafatjah et al., 2021)

Diet alone will not reverse advanced dementia. A slightly flexible ketogenic diet, on the other hand, shows promise in decreasing cognitive decline and the early stages of dementia.

The ten best items to add to your diet if you want to lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s are:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Nuts 
  • Prebiotics & probiotics
  • Olive oil
  • Poultry
  • Tea
  • Berries

Due to late diagnosis, the majority of patients with Alzheimer’s disease in Pakistan are in the moderate to severe stage of the illness when they are diagnosed. It is mostly due to a lack of awareness of dementia in Pakistan in comparison to the rest of the world. Because our system currently lacks the resources to provide efficient Alzheimer’s disease treatment in Pakistan for millions of people each year, the best alternative is to work on disease prevention and awareness.

People should establish goals for their lives beyond retirement, and rather than consider themselves retired and unproductive, the elderly should continue working to maintain their mental and physical health. They should stay active, incorporate jogging and swimming into their routine, and maintain a healthy lifestyle in general.

By: Sanya Zahid