Dr Ibel Beni Uwacu, a neurologist at Ndera Neuropsychiatric Hospital has said they have been receiving more patients of Alzheimer’s in recent years than before as life expectancy in Rwanda continues on the upward trend. Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain disease that causes memory loss and makes it difficult or nearly impossible to think clearly. In fact, as life expectancy increases, the prevalence of Alzheimer's in lower-and middle-income countries is climbing. The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects the number of people living with Alzheimer's to triple by 2050. That will increase the burden on families and on healthcare systems. According to WHO, more than 55 million people around the world suffer from dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common form. Alzheimer's represents 60 to 70 percent of dementia cases, or more than 30 million. Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. Uwacu says that in Rwanda, there are no statistics available for confirmed cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia since there hasn’t been any research conducted. He noted that due to the Genocide against the Tutsi which left different Rwandans with trauma, depression and insomnia, it is expected that the cases of Alzheimer’s will increase as people get old. On September 21, World Alzheimer's Day is commemorated every year to raise awareness and educate about Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Suffering from chronic and cardio-vascular diseases as well as taking too much alcohol and lack of physical exercises are among the factors that increase one’s risk of suffering from the disease when they grow old (aged 65 on average), according to Dr Uwacu. He advises people to consult doctors as soon as they start to forget things, adding that “when it’s diagnosed early, it cannot worsen faster to a more problematic phase.” The difficulty in pinpointing the precise cause of Alzheimer's, despite decades of research, has hampered the development of a treatment or cure for the illness. The biggest advance over the past two decades came in 2021 when the United States approved a drug called Aduhelm, the first new medicine against the disease in almost two decades and the first to address cognitive decline. Uwacu noted that in Rwanda, they also use a medicine that is made to slow down progression of the disease. Alzheimer's disease or other dementia when diagnosed in a family member, the effect on the entire family can be overwhelming. The diagnosis can trigger a range of emotions — including anger, fear, frustration and sadness. There also are many decisions to make about treatment, care, living arrangements, finances and end-of-life care. As a result, family conflicts are common. Uwacu said the family needs psychotherapy to understand the disease their patient is suffering from, adding that “they also have to be near them and watch their steps because they can even forget their homes when the disease worsens.” “Moreover,” he continued. “They have to make sure that the patient is sleeping well given that not sleeping can speed up Alzheimer’s progression.” WHO also states that Alzheimer's and dementia are among the main causes of problems with mobility and dependency for elderly people. World Alzheimer’s Day is part of the annual World Alzheimer’s Month which is observed in September to sensitize, educate, and demystify dementia.