Dementia in the Developing WorldDementia is the deterioration of mental capability, specifically concerning things such as memory, that most typically occurs in the elderly. The word “dementia” itself is not a disease, but rather a term used to describe a variety of symptoms associated with the condition. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, and in 2015 it was the seventh most common cause of death worldwide. Here are 10 facts about dementia in developing nations:

  1. Two thirds of dementia cases occur in the developing world, yet only 10 percent of research on the disease is conducted there.
  2. Incidences of Alzheimer’s and dementia are just as prevalent in the developing world as the developed world, if not even greater.
  3. A 2005 Alzheimer’s disease international study claimed that there was a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia in undeveloped countries than in the developed world. This has since been found to be untrue and researchers have re-assessed the variables at play in diagnosing memory-related illness.
  4. Women in both the developing and developed world have statistically higher rates of dementia than men of the same age.
  5. Socioeconomic factors, such as education and literacy, are directly linked to lowering the rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the developing world.
  6. Dependency has a very strong link to poverty, and as the incidence of late stage dementia cases increases with aging populations in the developing world, there will be an increased economic strain on families of dependents.
  7. If methods of screening for dementia were homogenous worldwide, it would provide vastly more accurate data on the prevalence of dementia globally.
  8. Assisted living and long term care facilities are sparse in the developing world, due in part to the importance of home-based care and rehabilitation in many cultures.
  9. There is a lack of funding for dementia care facilities and memory centers in the developing world, only exacerbating the growing rate of memory-related illness in these countries.
  10. The best way to ensure long term care for those with dementia in the developing world is to push policy makers to fund social programs to protect the elderly. We need to push for policy which integrates home-based care and generalized healthcare.

Dementia is not curable, but access to proper healthcare can help provide long lives to those afflicted with the condition. If the international aid community were to pool their support for this issue, we could ensure proper care for those suffering from dementia worldwide and radically improve the lives of those affected, their loved ones and even future generations.

Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr