1.6 million elderly people suffer from dementia
Around 1.6 million elderly people of the country are suffering from dementia, a mental disease, said experts at a discussion yesterday.
Post-retirement loneliness and shifting of joint families into a single family are some of the causes behind the disease, they said, adding that the country's inadequate medical facilities and lack of awareness among the public are the major obstacles in fighting the disease.
The discussion was held at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the capital to observe World Mental Health Day yesterday. The theme this year was “Mental Health and Older Adults”. NIMH and Bangladesh Association of Psychiatrists organised the discussion.
Dementia is predominantly prevalent among individuals above 60 and a patient with such a mental disease often fails to recall his past and mistreats people around him, said Dr Zillur Rahman Khan, a psychiatrist at NIMH.
According to a study, jointly released by NIMH and World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005, one in every 1,000 people in the country suffers from dementia.
Prof Waziul Alam Chowdhury, director of NIMH, said the number of dementia patients was increasing and if timely steps were not taken it would reach to 5.5 million in 2050.
There are only 190 professional psychiatrists and 38 clinical psychologists in the country, he said, adding that only 25 to 50 percent of the adults are privileged with medical treatment for the mental illness.