The rising Dementia crisis in UK worries scientists
Dementia is not a specific disease rather it refers to a set of symptoms that widely affect areas of knowledge such as memory, problem solving aptitude, attention and language. It is mostly common with geriatric people, however it can affect people below the age of 65 as well in which case it is termed as 'early onset dementia'.
On the occasion of Alzheimer's Action Day, various campaigners and medical caretakers gathered to discuss and raise awareness regarding the spiraling rise of dementia cases in the UK. Scientists and doctors have warned the concerned authorities that if appropriate and immediate measures are not taken up in due course of time, the number of sufferers will soon rise and it will become highly difficult to put a halt to this deteriorating situation.
Scientists believe that an aggressive research needs to be initiated in this field and more young researchers need to be encouraged to use their knowledge and conduct research in the field of dementia in order to find the requisite cure. Many also suggest that the government authorities should conduct creative campaigns to increase the number of people who voluntarily donate their brains for research to the research banks in the country.
Professor Andrew Lees, who is the clinical director of the Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Disorders, is one of the many who supports the donation of brain for research as the first major step towards finding a solution for dementia. He said, "More than a million people could soon be afflicted with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. We need to act very speedily to try to halt this from becoming a crisis. Getting people to donate brains that we can study and analyse to try to understand the basic science behind dementia would be a welcome development, for a start."
Burgeoning number of cases
According to Professor Lees, the single major factor that causes dementia, is age and the increasing number of dementia sufferers has been clearly caused due to the increased age of life expectancy in UK. While for men the life expectancy age has increased from 72 to 78, for women it has increased from 78 to 82.
There are around 820,000 Dementia patients in UK right now of which two-thirds suffer from Alzheimer's which is the most generic form of Dementia. What worries the doctors the most is that the increasing number of sufferers is also proportionally increasing the strain on health authorities as the services available for the patients will soon become insufficient if the number of patients continue to grow at the current pace.
Dr. Eric Karran, the director of research at the Alzheimer's Research UK, said, "The UK is not in the worst position. In China, where they have only allowed couples to have one child, there are even fewer younger people to look after the nation's ageing numbers. This is a crucial point. Alzheimer's is not, as some people claim, a disease of the developed world that is linked to western lifestyle. That is a myth. 60% of people with dementia live in the third world."
Lack of funding
Doctors claim the lack of funding for the dementia research as the major cause behind the inability and failure of various medicine manufacturers, such as Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer, to find an appropriate set of effective medicines for it.
The scientists and researchers unanimously agree that a cheap bio-marker needs to be developed that can detect the symptoms of dementia in its early stages and a drug needs to be formulated that can put a halt to the dysfunctioning of neurons in the patient's brain.
Researchers reckon that they are initiating tests and trials on various drugs that have proved effective in the case of other similar conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Says Professor Lees, "There are signs of hope, it is true, but we still have a long way to go."