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Dementia: A major public health issue

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The World Health Organization, WHO, reports that dementia cases worldwide will double by 2030 from the current number of 35.6 million people living with the diagnosis. And they predict that by the year 2050, the number of cases will have tripled. This is a staggering number of people with dementia as well as a huge burden, both financially and emotionally, for families caring for loved ones.

The state of Michigan also is dealing with a large number of people diagnosed with dementia – close to 250,000 people.

Dementia is a syndrome, usually of a chronic nature, caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behavior, and ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia and possibly contributes up to 70 percent of cases, although other causes may include Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.

Dementia usually occurs in older age, and rarely in a person under age 60.

Early symptoms include:

  • Difficulty performing tasks that take some thought such as balancing your checkbook or learning new information or routines
  • Getting lost on familiar routes
  • Language problems such as trouble finding the name of familiar objects
  • Losing interest in things you previously enjoyed
  • Misplacing items
  • Personality changes and loss of social skills

Surprisingly, some causes of dementia may be stopped or reversed if discovered soon enough. They include:

WHO Report

For more on dementia

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