Alzheimer’s awareness lacking

Kathmandu, September 21

September marks World Alzheimer’s month with September 21 dedicated to World Alzheimer’s Day.  However, only little has been done to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s in Nepal.

According to the 2011 census, about 4.4 per cent of the country’s population is above 65 years of age. Of them, an estimated 78,000 suffer from Alzheimer’s, according to Alzheimer ’s disease International. However, only a few of them reach the hospital for treatment and, that too, during advanced stage of the disease.

The number of Alzheimer’s patients visiting Patan Hospital is on the rise lately. The hospital has set up geriatric ward for Alzheimer’s patients. “Only one or two Alzheimer’s patients visited the hospital in the past. However, the number has increased to about five per week now,” said Dr Ramesh Kandel, Alzheimer’s specialist at Patan Hospital.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative ailment of the brain that affects memory and behaviour of the patients. The neurons start to degenerate and patient starts to forget. The disease progresses with the age of the patient. There is 45 per cent of chance of occurrence of the disease among people aged above 80 years while there is five to 10 per cent chances of the disease to occur among people aged between 65 and 75 years.

The government has been providing one lakh rupees to each Alzheimer’s patient through Patan Hospital, Bir Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital and BP Koirala Memorial Hospital. “As the money is given only after diagnosis of the disease and from only a few health centres, it is very inconvenient for patients to seek treatment. Regional hospitals should also be allocated fund for Alzheimer’s patients,” said Dr Kandel.

Patients are likely to suffer from urine infection, aspiration pneumonia and eventually die if they fail to get treatment.