認知症対策 生活習慣の改善も予防になる

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 17, 2014
Govt must promote healthy lifestyle from young age to ward off dementia
認知症対策 生活習慣の改善も予防になる(1月17日付・読売社説)

The number of elderly Japanese people suffering from dementia is increasing much faster than predicted. The government must devise measures to prevent and treat the condition as quickly as possible.

According to an estimate by a research team of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the number of elderly people diagnosed with dementia has reached 4.62 million. Research results by Kyushu University indicate the number is six times the level 20 years ago.

It must be noted that an increase in people suffering from diabetes, along with the quickly aging population, has boosted the number of dementia patients.

Domestic and overseas research has found that diabetics are about twice as likely as those without diabetes to develop Alzheimer’s-type dementia.

Alzheimer’s-type dementia develops as a result of the accumulation of abnormal protein in the brain. People are more likely to develop this type of dementia if they become diabetic and a large amount of insulin is produced in their bodies, because insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels, also interrupts the dissolution of the protein and thus promotes its accumulation.

Major causes for diabetes are overeating and obesity resulting from insufficient exercise. According to some data, people who pay attention to their lifestyles by exercising regularly and eating Japanese and other healthy foods are less likely to develop diabetes or dementia.

The health ministry should publicize such information, which could help people prevent these health problems by paying attention to their lifestyles from a young age.

As many as 4 million people are said to suffer from “mild cognitive impairment,” believed to be a stage before dementia. Symptoms include impaired memory and judgment. If treated at an early stage, however, it can likely be prevented from progressing to dementia, doctors say. We hope measures to prevent the condition will be established as soon as possible.

Dementia could be controlled

It is still important to diagnose dementia as early as possible, even if a patient has already developed symptoms. If treated properly, dementia patients could recover in cases where the formation of a hematoma in the brain due to a blow to the head caused it, for instance.

However, the conditions of many patients deteriorate if left undiagnosed. It is necessary to develop a system that can render an accurate diagnosis by increasing expert-staffed outpatient “forgetful” clinics around the country.

If diagnosed early, it might be possible for people with dementia to continue their family life and jobs longer with the understanding and cooperation of their families and people around them.

Developing measures to deal with dementia is a common concern among advanced countries, whose populations are aging quickly.

Japan, the United States and six other advanced countries held the first G-8 Dementia Summit last month in London. They agreed to drastically increase research funds for dementia and share research data with the aim of establishing treatment methods by 2025.

International cooperation is essential to study dementia, which still has many unexplained elements. We think Japan, whose population is aging the fastest in the world, should lead the research. The government should play a leading role and mobilize all Japanese researchers in this field to tackle the issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 17, 2014)
(2014年1月17日01時24分 読売新聞)


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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