Staff Reporter

KOCHI: Alzheimer’s disease was the most common cause of dementia in the elderly population and around 3 per cent of elderly people have dementia. This was the preliminary finding of a study done on a random sampling of elderly people over 65 years in Thrissur district.

Out of the total number of dementia cases in the study, 63 per cent was caused by Alzheimer’s disease while 30 per cent was bracketed as vascular dementia, which was caused by blocks in the blood supply to the brain. Diagnosis by exclusion was the tool used to arrive at a conclusion.

Loss of memory was generally categorised as dementia. While dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible, other types of dementia can be arrested with proper treatment and care.

The study was a programme taken up by the Kochi-based Centre for Survey Research and Management Studies as part of an Indian Council of Medical Research project. Dr. Jacob Roy, chairman of the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), psychiatrist Dr. S. Shaji, and bio-statistician Dr. T. Sugathan were the investigators in the project.

The field sampling by Dr. Shaji was a combination of rural and urban population, which included four panchayats, three municipalities and the Corporation area. Punnayurkulam, Orumanayur, Chelakkara, and Payanannur were the four rural areas while Chalakudy, Kodungallor and Irinjalakuda were the three municipalities.

880 people underwent diagnosis in the rural area while in the urban area it was 1320. According to Dr. Shaji, there was high incidence of dementia in Chalakudy with 6 per cent, while in most other places the numbers indicated around 3 per cent. It was also found that more women were affected by dementia, he said. A similar study was done around two years ago in some of the wards of the Kochi Corporation area, which had revealed a similar conclusion. At that time, it was found that 53 per cent of dementia cases were because of Alzheimer’s disease.