As a result of advances in medication, globally, people are living longer. While longer life expectancy is a positive trend, the focus on cognitive wellbeing becomes incredibly important, as dementia becomes increasingly probable in an ageing population.
Cipla Medpro’s CEO, Paul Miller said: “As part of our ethos of ‘Caring for Life’, we want people to live long and healthy lives. Therefore, we’re launching a campaign to educate people about dementia, and more specifically Alzheimer’s disease.
“While some organs, such as a heart or lung can be transplanted, and doctors can perform hip replacements, this is not possible for the brain; so the best option is to try and focus on cognitive reserve. Dementia is a debilitating brain disorder and greatly impacts the affected person as well as their family and/or caregivers. Not only does it take away precious memories, it disrupts the person’s life in numerous ways.”
While Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) may be a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), it does not necessarily mean someone is guaranteed to get Alzheimer’s disease, says neurologist, Dr Johan Smuts. “While there is no cure for dementia, research has found that people can potentially reduce their risk of cognitive decline, by making healthy lifestyle choices for example proper nutrition, quitting smoking, reducing stress levels and regular exercise.”
Studies have also shown that participating in mentally engaging activities such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku, can delay the onset of accelerated memory decline.
“By 2050, 115 million cases of dementia are expected worldwide (a substantial increase from the estimated 44.4 million people globally that were living with the condition in 2013), and it is therefore vital to increase awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia,” says Miller.
“There is currently very little to no proper understanding of dementia and people fear being diagnosed with dementia. We are focussed on finding meaningful ways of sharing educational information to help destigmatise the condition,” says Miller.
While there is no cure for dementia, medication can help to relieve some of the symptoms or slow down their progression for a period.
Studies have shown that starting treatment for patients living with Alzheimer’s disease as early as possible may help them remain independent for longer. In particular, some combinations of medicines are proven to reduce patients’ rate of decline in cognition and function.
Medicine has also been effective in preventing the emergence of several behavioural symptoms such as agitation, aggression, irritability and night-time behaviour in Alzheimer’s disease patients who were asymptomatic at the time that they started treatment.
As part of the awareness campaign, Cipla Medpro launched a microsite (https://www.cipla.co.za/alzheimers/#) which includes information about dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive wellbeing. The microsite also includes a feature that allows families to upload memorable photographs to be converted into puzzles (limited quantities available) for the family, an aging relative, or for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease.