Abstract of Y. Barak lecture


Y. Barak
Abarbanel MHC and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Aging of our population is predicted to result in continuous and
dramatic increase in rates of dementia reaching 40% of the elderly by
2020. In parallel a significant improvement in life-expectancy of those
suffering from mental retardation (MR) has occurred since the late
1980s. Aging is the most profound risk factor for dementia. Thu,
persons suffering from MR who are now reaching old-age more
frequently are in fact becoming a group at extreme risk for developing
dementia. The combination of aging with lack of protective factors due
to minimal formal education and unhealthy life-style because of
improper dietary care, little cognitive engagement and shortage of
physical exercise crystallize into worrisome rates of dementia amongst
all those who suffer from MR. In this fragile population it is imperative
that dementia be diagnosed using structured formal algorithms. It is
necessary to emphasize and implement the use of structured rating
scales amongst staff treating MR. Following a comprehensive
diagnostic workup one should recommend approved "anti-dementia"
medications. However, care need be taken in pharmacological
treatment of those suffering from MR as no studies to date have
evaluated cognitive enhancers in those suffering from MR. Finally, as
health care professionals we must create a movement for the
prevention of dementia amongst those suffering from MR. Staff
working with MR must be trained and need acquire skills for
prevention strategies. Service providers for the elderly suffering from
MR should found specific diagnostic and treatment modalities in order
to stem the tide of dementia.

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