World Alzheimer’s Day is commemorated every year on 21 September. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, which is a group of disorders that impair mental functioning. Cipla has started the Saving Memories campaign to raise awareness about dementia.
Dr Johan Smuts, a neurologist, explained that the human brain works like a serious of pathways that connect to memories. As people get older, the pathways begin to get more complicated, making it increasingly difficult to recall something.
“We don’t really know entirely what causes this. We’ve got lots of ideas but most definitely age is a significant part, if you’re old, you’re likely to get it. If you’re well educated you’re less likely to get it and there are also genetic factors. Environmental factors are the one thing we’re able to do something about.”
Smuts said that they know that there are certain genes that will definitely give some Alzheimer’s and most likely before the age of 50, such as the apolipoprotein E gene. Other genes can make people more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or even protect someone from the disease.
“There are lots of other genes that are somehow related to Alzheimer’s disease but its variable.”
Although there is currently no cure for dementia, Smuts said that there have been breakthroughs in medicine that assist with memory and cognitive function. While genetics can play a role in whether or not someone will get dementia, Smuts highlighted that a healthy lifestyle including exercise, a healthy diet and social interaction can improve cognitive function.
Smuts highlighted that foods such as olive oil, berries, and red wine are all beneficial to one’s health. He added that less stress and leading a calmer lifestyle and having a good sense of community also contribute to living a longer, healthier life.
The Saving Memories campaign hopes to help those with dementia preserve their memories and raise awareness about the disease.