Dementia cases set to triple: WHO issues guide to cut risk

Dementia cases set to triple: WHO issues guide to cut risk

The risk of dementia can be reduced by cutting alcohol consumption and not smoking, part of a lengthy list of proactive ways the World Health Organization has released to help avoid cognitive decline.

"In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple", said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.

The WHO explained dementia is an illness that affects memory, thinking, learning, and judgment.

"The costs of caring for people with dementia are estimated to rise to two trillion US dollars annually by 2030", the organisation said. According to the United Nations health agency, having a healthy diet, especially a Mediterranean one, maintaining healthy blood pressure, consuming less amount of alcohol, and exercising regularly could help in reducing the risk of the brain condition.

Dementia is a syndrome - usually of a chronic or progressive nature - in which there is deterioration in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from normal ageing.

Stopping smoking, a healthy diet and avoiding harmful use of alcohol were also among the recommendations of the WHO's report, entitled "Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia". The cost of caring for dementia patients is predicted to surge to $2 trillion by 2030. However, there was not always strong evidence that dementia risk would be reduced with these steps. They can also guide policymakers and other authorities on how to develop programs and strategies that move people to live healthier lifestyles. A range of diseases and lifestyle factors increase the risk for developing dementia and scientists estimate that in around one-third of cases, dementia is preventable, says Maria Carrillo, Chief Science Officer of the Alzheimer's Association. Carrillo agrees that people should be looking to obtain nutrients through eating whole foods rather than using supplements.

The WHO also advocates proper management of a range of health indicators as ages grow, such as that of mid-life overweight and obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, depression, and hearing loss.

The WHO strongly recommends that countries manage the growing health challenge of dementia by creating national policies and plans, an essential element of which is support for carers of people with dementia.

World Health Organization said that iSupport was now being used in eight countries, adding that the organisation will soon facilitate the adoption of the programme by more countries.

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