The WHO describes dementia as, “a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities.” About 50 million people in the world have dementia. And there are almost 10 million new cases every year.
The brand new mDementia handbook was launched by the WHO Mental Health and Substance Use Department and BeHe@lthy BeMobile (BHBM), a joint initiative between the World Health Organization and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). It consists of two modules.
- mDementionPrevention: Encourages middle-aged or older people to manage modifiable risk factors, such as physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, as well as unhealthy diets. This helps to delay the onset or slow the progression of dementia.
- DementiaSupport: Based on WHO’s skills and knowledge training programme for carers of people with dementia, iSupport. It provides tailored support to address the physical and mental health impacts associated with caring for people with dementia.
Sample two-way monitoring messages for mDementationPrevention
- Have you reduced the amount of alcohol you consume over the past week? Reply with 1 for Yes or 2 for No
- Have you limited your alcohol intake to 1 alcoholic drink or less per day? Reply with 1 for Yes or 2 for No
If Yes – This is a great accomplishment. Give yourself a pat on the back. Keep it up and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
If No – It often takes a few tries to reach your goals. It may help to avoid situations that trigger a change in your healthy lifestyle.
In the 2019 report titled “Alcohol and Older People” from the “Alcohol and Society” series, a group of leading researchers found that alcohol use is a significant risk factor for dementia.
Heavy alcohol use is the strongest modifiable risk factor for dementia onset. High quality research using advanced medical MRI brain scans, genetic randomization studies, and experimental animal studies suggest that there is likely no protective effect of even low-volume alcohol consumption on cognition.
Alcohol is a powerful neurotoxin, known to cause or contribute to a wide range of neurological disorders including dementia and fetal alcohol syndrome, among many others.
Dementia attributable to alcohol is now recognized as much larger than previously thought. Heavy [alcohol use] is strongly associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Alcohol use disorder is the strongest modifiable risk factor for dementia onset and is associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset.”Andreasson S, Chikritzhs T, Dangardt F, Holder H, Naimi T, Stockwell T (2019) Alcohol and Society 2019: Alcohol and the Elderly, Stockholm: Swedish Society of Medicine, Swedish Society of Nursing, CERA & IOGT-NTO.
Purpose of the handbook
The mDementia Handbook helps to strengthen existing dementia prevention and carer support programs by incorporating a mHealth program. There are steps and considerations for successfully implementing mDementia and scaling up. Countries can adapt the content to support their own national guidelines and existing health system interventions and to the local context and culture.