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Prevalence of dementia in the developing world underestimated
Date:7/27/2008

," says Professor Prince. "Our evidence suggests that relatives in developing world countries are less likely to perceive or report that their elders are experiencing difficulties, even in the presence of clear evidence of disability and memory impairment."

The research group assessed almost 15,000 people over the age of 65 in eleven countries, including India, China, Cuba and Peru. The assessment consisted of interviews with the participant and, typically, a family member, as well as a physical examination and a blood test. The criteria used by the 10/66 researchers were developed and validated cross-culturally across Latin America, Africa, South and South East Asia in an attempt to enable valid comparisons to be made between different countries and cultures even when a high proportion of older people had had little or no education.

According to the study, prevalence of dementia in urban settings in Latin America is comparable with rates in Europe and the US, though the prevalence in China and India is lower.

Dementia leads to associated disability, such as memory impairment, affecting the quality of life of the patient. However, pilot studies carried out by the group suggest that dementia also places a high burden on the carer and that this is exacerbated by lack of knowledge of the disease and its likely progression.

"You could question the point of labelling someone as having dementia if their relatives do not acknowledge it as a problem," says Professor Prince. "Our data suggest that even if it is not recognised as dementia, the illness places a heavy burden on both the elderly patient and their relatives. Being able to estimate accurately the true population of people living with burden is the first important step towards putting into place appropriate health and social care systems."

The 10/66 investigators are now analysing their data to examine the burden and impact of dementia in different countries, relative to
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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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