studies to pinpoint the pathology of Alzheimer's disease has established that genes in 10 percent of cases can be blamed for the occurrence, but "in the bulk of cases there is no such evidence", said Ravindranath.
A source of some satisfaction for neurologists like K.S. Anand, who heads the neurology department at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here, is that there is greater awareness about Alzheimer's among medical practitioners and the public.
"An active lifestyle, healthy diet with plenty of greens and higher education are among things that can help slow down the progression of Alzheimer's, as has been found in a study of the rural population in southern India," said Anand.
Among the large number of patients he attends in the out-patient department of his hospital, Anand on an average comes across two to four new cases of Alzheimer's every week.
In the first stage of Alzheimer's, a debilitating disease, the patient goes through the agonising stage of knowing the progression of the illness. After this, it is the caregiver who faces the agony of seeing a loved one gradually lose memories and become totally dependent for every need.
Many among caretakers end up requiring treatment for depression and other stress-related problems.
Each stage of the illness generally lasts for three to four years and by the third or last stage, the patient can lose the ability to speak, become bedridden and even lose understanding about body motions.
The helpless of an Alzheimer's patient was to some extent brought alive by Amitabh Bachchan in the film "Black", which Narula feels was not well exploited to create public awareness.
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