Substance abuse among youths to triple Zim’s burden of dementia

ZIMBABWE has around 27 000 elderly persons living with dementia and the number is expected to triple on the back of heightened substance and drug abuse amongst youths.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Alzheimer’s is a leading cause of dementia as Zimbabwe Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Association (ZARDA) support consultant Ms Shupikai Manyaraji states it accounts for more than 60 percent of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.

With Zimbabwe battling the scourge of substance and drug misuse, also an epidemic, Ms Manyaraji said the abuse of crystal meth can actually treble the risk of getting dementia. She said substance and drug abuse amongst youths will haunt them later in life as dementia.

“The estimated number of old people with dementia in Zimbabwe that I know is about 27 000. But it is going to triple because dementia can also be caused by drug abuse.

” Dementia can or cannot be reversible. Irreversible dementia includes vascular dementia, dementia with Parkinson’s. Drug induced dementia will likely triple the prevalence because Crystal Meth users exhibit the behaviours or similar symptoms of dementia.

“I think Government should intervene because the more we have people with dementia, this will burden the communities, families and the Government itself,” she said.

Smoking, air pollution and lack of exercise are among the causes of dementia. Warning signs according to ZARDA include memory loss, disorientation of time and place, poor or decreased judgment, changes in mood and behaviour, misplacing things, trouble with images and spartial relations as well as withdrawal frok work or social activities.

Society of Destitute Aged (SODA) Home Director Ms Emilia Mukaratirwa said they had an idea about the diseases.

“Taking care of the elderly we obviously had an idea about challenges associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s and we were excited to learn more,” she said.



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