A cure for Alzheimer's disease which afflicts hundreds of elderly people may be a long way off, but continuing social interaction and activity can keep patients mentally agile and slow the crippling illness, say experts.//
"Not many know that Alzheimer's is a disease and not a normal process of ageing with phases of forgetfulness and slowing down of activities. Once the early stage is past, the person slowly goes blank," N.M. Narula, president of the Delhi chapter of Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), told IANS.
Marking World Alzheimer's Day Wednesday, ARDSI has planned weeklong activities to put the spotlight on a disease that is estimated to have afflicted over three million in India.
Experts say if immediate family members and caretakers of Alzheimer's patients are taken into account, the number of people touched by the illness could be anywhere between six and 30 million people.
So far scientists have not found any clear-cut answers to prevent or cure Alzheimer's disease, said Vijayalakshmi Ravindranath, director of the Manesar, Haryana-based National Brain Research Centre.
"Research on possible vaccines to prevent Alzheimer's has not shown the results we would have wanted. Research has, however, shown definite evidence that enriched cages with toys, exercise equipment and social interaction can at least postpone Alzheimer's in mice," Ravindranath told IANS.
Experts have also stressed the need for a population study to know the burden of people suffering from Alzheimer's in India and to spread awareness as early detection of the disease can help tackle the early stages of the illness and improve the quality of life.
Work is still on to replicate in humans evidence that oestrogen hormone replacement, if given to women at the onset of menopause, can help prevent Alzheimer's which generally occurs in people over 65 years.
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