Dementia Is Set to Rapidly Escalate in India but Awareness Remains Low

India is currently in the midst of a serious health crisis; millions of its older adults are afflicted with dementia but are not receiving any form of treatment. In fact, the problem of untreated dementia in India has been exacerbated by the fact that a significant portion of the population is not even aware the disorder exists.

The Scope of the Indian Dementia Crisis

During the recently held 19th National Conference of the Alzheimer’s & Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), the issue of untreated dementia in the country was a major topic of discussion. It’s currently estimated that some 4 million Indians over the age of 60 are afflicted by some form of dementia, and that number will rise to 7.7 million in the next four years. Even though the number of elderly Indians with dementia will hit 13 to 14 million by the year 2050, dementia is still not treated as a major health problem in India and is widely undiagnosed.

A Seriously Problematic Lack of Awareness

The main reason dementia is such a serious problem in India is a lack of awareness, especially among the country’s rural and impoverished population. This segment of the populace is unaware that symptoms like forgetfulness and a lack of concentration can be indicative of an illness and not just a natural consequence of aging, so medical aid is not sought out. As a consequence, types of dementia that can be successfully treated, such as that caused by vitamin deficiency or hormonal imbalance, is left to ravage older adults unabated.

Hope for the Future

Compounding the issue, adults over 60 who are afflicted with, but not diagnosed with, dementia will likely experience a poor quality of life because of a lack of understanding surrounding their condition. Because mental health outcomes for dementia patients are much better if their condition is caught and treated early, it’s likely that the afflicted in India will see their conditions advance faster and experience a higher risk factor for injury or even death than their counterparts in other countries with more aggressive dementia treatment programs.

Hopefully, the seriousness and widespread nature of the problem will prompt the Indian government to create an awareness campaign that will alert the public to the fact that there are treatment options available for dementia that will greatly improve the quality and duration of life for those living with the illness.