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

Common Diseases in TurkeyTurkey has a population of just over 78 million people. The country has a very complex healthcare system, offering many different plans and systems. The common diseases in Turkey are similar to those in the rest of the world.

The healthcare system in place in Turkey, although complex, is one of the world’s best, with high-quality doctors and the latest technology available to bring the highest-quality care to individuals. This leads to higher life expectancy for both males and females, with men living to be about 76 and females living to be just over 82 years old. Both are well over the worldwide average.

Turkey’s public facilities consist of government-run hospitals associated with universities to bring the highest quality of care. However, the state-run hospitals are lagging behind the private sector and have shortages of personnel and equipment.

One of the most common diseases in Turkey is heart disease. However, many forms of heart disease have diminished in severity and occurrence over the past decade. Ischemic heart disease has dropped almost 15 percent over the last decade. The new technology that is becoming more widely available in Turkey is working to decrease the most common diseases in Turkey, and the rates of many of these diseases have decreased in the past decade.

Another common disease in Turkey is Alzheimer’s disease. This is a deadly disease that has impacted millions around the world. It is also on the rise in Turkey, with its rate of occurrence jumping up nearly 10 percent over the past decade. In 2012, it was estimated that 331,512 people were living with dementia in Turkey. This represented 0.44 percent of the population of Turkey.

Alzheimer’s disease mostly impacts people who are 75 and older, with the highest rates of occurrence in those that are 80 to 94 years old. However, it is estimated that half of the people with dementia have not been diagnosed. It is imperative that Turkey works to create opportunities for new methods of diagnosis and treatment for the disease. Over the past decade, awareness of Alzheimer’s has increased drastically, and thus more people are paying attention and attempting to help find treatment and a cure.

The common diseases in Turkey are much like the rest of the world, but Turkey is more fortunate than many to have great healthcare for most of the people in the nation. There is still work to be done to research these diseases and find strategies to help those hospitals that are less fortunate than others.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

When grandparents and parents of developed countries begin to lose lucidity, families put them in nursing homes and hope for modern medicine to ease their lives. The circumstances are different in the developing world, where dementia cases are on the rise and there is an increasing need to address the problem.

Dementia affects 44.4 million people in the world, two-thirds of whom are living in the developing world. This spread can largely be accounted for by the slow transition these countries are making toward increased economic stability. Diets high in animal fat have been noted as a cause of dementia, and as countries are developing, their diets have begun to incorporate more Western traditions. With this change in diet, dementia is reaching even more people.

Tobacco use has also been linked to dementia, and during the transition period in developing countries, tobacco companies have begun to target these regions of the world to expand their market. To add insult to injury, these areas are typically less educated about the risks of smoking and are therefore much more susceptible to smoke.

Low rates of education are also having a troubling effect on the rates of dementia in the developing world. Illiteracy and low educational achievement are two risk factors linked to dementia, and in impoverished areas around the globe, education is one area that is lacking. Often children forgo school completely to help support their families, or else they are not provided with the encouragement and support needed to succeed in school. Either case leaves them less educated and potentially more likely to develop dementia later in life.

Although increased life expectancy is a positive change for developing countries, it also leaves them more exposed to the risk of dementia. Denis Evans, who works at Rush University in Chicago, explains that, “Age is the biggest known driver of dementia.” With populations living longer, they begin to experience the ailments of old age. Because this transition toward longer life spans is relatively recent for many countries, they are currently ill equipped to deal with new medical concerns. Thus, they have begun an expensive game of catch-up.

As studies continue and the developing world gains exposure to the signs and symptoms of dementia, prevalence may not decline but the cases will be easier to handle. Increasing education in general, and more specifically to the risks of smoking and the benefits of a balanced diet, could also potentially lower the rates of dementia. We look hopefully to a brighter future where these countries will be able to address dementia and drastically improve lives.

– Magdalen Mae Wagner

Sources: Alzheimer’s Disease International, Physician’s Committee, NCBI, Alzforum