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Experts alert to rising prevalence of dementia in Nigeria

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In Nigeria, caregivers often do not report symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, in their demented relative for fear of having him or her diagnosed as suffering from mental illness, a disorder that carries a considerable stigma in differnt cultures in the country.

Experts have raised concern over the possible rise in Alzheimer disease, the most common cause of dementia in Nigeria.

They stressed that the current challenge facing Alzheimer, which is the second global leading cause of disability after stroke is the rise in number of people having the disease, which could likely increase to 74.7 million in year 2030 and an estimated 131.5 million in 2050.

Delivering the 2018 Gabi Williams Alzhiemers Foundation (GWAF) Lecture in Lagos, with the theme: “Challenges faced by Nigerian families dealing with Dementia: what can be done?” Consultant Neuroepidemiologist, Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Prof. Adesola Ogunniyi explained that the rising prevalence of dementia in Africa is worrisome with an estimated and projected number of cases to include 3.48 million in 2030 and 7.62 million 2050 as against the 2.13 million in 2015.

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According to the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) report, this shows 257 per cent increase between 2015 and 2050.

He lamented that in Nigeria, caregivers often do not report symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, in their demented relative for fear of having him or her diagnosed as suffering from mental illness, a disorder that carries a considerable stigma in differnt cultures in the country.

This, he said could develop to advance stage of dementia thereby creating huge burden for the caregivers.

“The illness is considered dehumanizing as the individual is completely helpless, mute and uncomprehending.

The situation bewilders family members. It becomes a nightmare that never ends.

Imagine the grandparent using diapers, being spoon-fed and totally behaving like a child.

Neglect occurs at this stage from helplessness and exhaustion of the caregivers,” he noted.


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