Following the Shlomo Gronich storm: What is dementia and how common is it?

Singer and composer Shlomo Gronich was at the center of a public storm today (Wednesday) following his racist remarks yesterday during a performance at the Ein Gev Festival. After receiving much criticism this morning from politicians and artists, Gronich’s family has revealed that he suffers from dementia, and they claim that his condition has deteriorated recently and he does not control everything he says.

Following the great public interest in the disease, the chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians in Israel, Prof. Hagai Levin, posted on his Twitter account a guide from the Ministry of Health defining what dementia is.

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“Dementia is characterized by a significant decrease in a person’s cognitive functions (thinking abilities). Dementia gradually impairs memory, thinking ability, orientation in time and space and the ability to identify people and objects and consequently there is a gradual decrease in the ability to perform daily activities and communicate with the environment. “The patient suffers from symptoms of confusion, irritability, suspicion and even violent attacks. Over time, in addition to cognitive impairment, there is also impairment of physical abilities. Dementia is one of the leading causes of disability among the elderly and is considered one of the most serious illnesses for man, family and society.”

It is also written that “the prevalence of dementia is estimated at about 10% of those aged 65 and over. The prevalence increases with age from about 5% between the ages of 65 – 74 and up to about 30% between the ages of 85 and over. The disease is rarely detected at younger ages (under 60). Today in Israel, the number of patients with dementia is estimated at 100,000. In the coming years, with the aging population in Israel, the number of people suffering from dementia is expected to increase significantly. “Or about 66,000 people. Given that there is an underreporting of 25% – 50% the incidence of dementia is estimated at about 100,000 people. The incidence under the age of 75 is estimated at 2%.”

In view of the gradual nature of the deterioration in dementia, it is customary to divide the disease into several stages:

    • Mild dementia: Characterized by fairly independent functioning. This phase lasts between two and four years, with symptoms appearing like standard aging: mild memory impairment (difficulty retrieving words, placing objects out of place, etc.), impairment in performing complex tasks and mood swings (confusion, tendency to depression and aggression, etc.).

    • Moderate dementia: The intermediate stage is the longest, lasting between two and ten years and is characterized by aggravation of short-term memory loss, difficulty in monitoring conversations and decision making, sleep disturbances, suspicion, delusions and sometimes also hallucinations and wandering.

    • Acute dementia: This stage is characterized by significant communication problems. Significant memory loss to the point of difficulty in identifying family members, indifference and complete inability to function independently. This phase lasts between one and three years.

By Editor

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