Alzheimer’s in Malaysia

According to Alzheimer’s disease Foundation Malaysia (2016), it is predicted that currently there are about 50,000 people in Malaysia with this disease. The estimated number of older people with this disease worldwide is expected to double for every 20 years. It is surprising to know that most people in Malaysia perceive AD or dementia as a normal part of aging and thus they are not diagnosed and do not seek medical advice on it. A study by Tsolaki (2009) found that it took up to 16 months for the caregivers to seek medical advice from the health professionals as a result of their misinterpretation of dementia as a normal sign of growing old. It is crucial to raise awareness and remove the stigma of dementia among people especially the caregivers. Hence, this is why AD is not only affecting the patients, but also their family, friends, and caregivers. In order to improve their quality of life, the caregivers need to be knowledgeable in managing the patients so that they can reduce the burden.

According to Alzheimer’s disease International (2014) in which Malaysia is one of its member reported that the prevalence of dementia in Malaysia was 123,000 people in 2015. This number was projected to be 261,000 by 2030 and will continue to increase to 590,000 people in 2050. It is evident that dementia is certain although the results of the prevalence studies vary across the world due to different methodologies used. There are only a limited number of prevalence studies on dementia in Malaysia (See Table). A rural community study conducted in Selangor among Malay participants over the age of 60 found the prevalence of cognitive impairment to be 22.4% . The prevalence of dementia was 6% for an urban community study in Kuala Lumpur (1997) among the Malay older people.