Take charge of your health

Azlan Othman

While there is no cure for dementia yet, we can take steps to reduce the risk of developing it, said Honorary Adviser of Demensia Brunei (dB) Datin Jacqueline Wong in commemorating World Alzheimer’s Month.

She made these comments calling Brunei’s youth and others to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Brunei is expected to see a rise in vascular dementia due to high prevalence of non-communicable disease (NCDs).

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Asia-Pacific Regional Human Development Report 2016 highlighted that Brunei Darussalam will face age-related issues and an ageing population by 2030.

Based on ADI’s report in 2014, Dementia in the Asia-Pacific Region, over 1,000 Bruneians had dementia in 2015.

The number doubled to over 2,000 persons with dementia in 2018. These numbers are feared to increase to over 11,000 persons with dementia by 2030.

Datin Wong said people of Brunei ha enjoyed better living standards and improvements in primary public healthcare and these have contributed to an increase in life expectancy by some 20 years.

Living longer has not translated to a better quality of life. The rates of infectious diseases may have reduced significantly, but the number of people with NCDs, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cancer have increased.

Brunei has among the highest prevalence of obesity and diabetes in Southeast Asia. Brunei also ranks one of the highest in the number of people with dementia in Asia. In some countries, it is the leading cause of death, she said.

Brunei also has the highest prevalence of obesity among youth aged five to 19 at 14.1 per cent. While Bruneians will live longer, some may spend the last 25 years with diabetes and hypertension, and their complications which could lead to dementia.

Datin Jacqueline Wong encouraged voluntary participation in dB’s dementia-friendly initiatives and dementia care training workshops.

Meanwhile, dB serves to educate youth on the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle as well as the importance of maintaining mental and physical wellbeing.

Brunei is one of the fastest ageing countries in Asia besides Japan.

The total number of older persons in Brunei is 14.6 per cent.

While the risk of dementia increases with age, early onset of the condition can also occur in young adults. There are known cases of people diagnosed with dementia in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

According to Datin Wong, the Sultanate can reduce the risk of dementia by preventing NCDs. It is important to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet, she added.