Cases of dementia and all the social and financial burdens involved are set to rise sharply in the coming decades as life expectancy and medical care improve in the developing countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as reported by the Associated Press.
In 2010, some 35.6 million people suffered from dementia, but that figure will likely double to 65.7 million by 2030, the WHO said Wednesday.
“The numbers are already large and are increasing rather rapidly,” said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, the head of WHO’s mental health division.
As regular readers know, I entertain strong feelings about dementia as my mother suffered from it and my aunt died of Alzheimer’s. The idea “Old people forget a lot” seems to be burned into the peoples’ brains. A recent episode of ABC-TV’s Modern Family had a number of jokes about old people not being able to remember well. It seems to have become one of the enduring cliches of our culture. And, not a very kind one, I think.
Scientific American reported that, “Neurogenesis (nerve-cell production) goes down with age … it’s known that with old age there’s a decrease in short- term memory,” says Ronald Evans, a genetics professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif. “We know that if we can increase the process, we know what the consequence could be in the brain, which would be to increase short-term learning and memory.
Last May I wrote Memory Loss is Not Inevitable for Seniors. It is based in part on the above principle that the brain can produce new brain cells at any age. You can click on the link to read the entire item which gives detailed suggestions on retaining our mental powers into old age.
In September I added Exercise, Aging and the Brain. The item starts with the following lead, “Just a year of modest aerobic exercise reversed normal brain shrinkage by one to two years in older adults and improved their memory function, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal.”
I sincerely hope that readers of our blog will be among those seniors who do not join the millions who lose their faculties to dementia. You have all the tools to succeed, all you need to do is use them.
For a full rundown on this subject, check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).