By Fred Roffey

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease attack regardless of age, sex  and financial status.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s don’t just target one group of people. Many of the affected people had everything to live for in the material sense, but what was the use of their money if they had to endure a slow but inevitable deterioration in their memory? At present, there is no cure.

Affected people range from film stars to sports personalities, musicians to artists, politicians to activists, and authors to physicians. Here is a list of just a few of the well-known people who died from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

10 Famous people who have died from Dementia

  1. Ronald Reagan, former USA President
  2. Harold Wilson, former British Prime Minister
  3. Sugar Ray Robinson, American boxer
  4. Otto Preminger, prominent film director
  5. Charlton Heston, American actor
  6. Rita Hayworth, glamorous film actress
  7. Charles Bronson, USA film actor
  8. Dana Andrews, USA actor
  9. Perry Como, American singer
  10. Terry Pratchett, writer noted for fantasy novels

The countdown

Statistics show that about 10% of people develop the disease at some point in their life, and the figure is increasing with earlier and better diagnosis.

About 3% of people between the ages of 65-74 have dementia, 19% between 75 and 84, and about half of those over 85 years of age in the Western World. It is the 8th leading cause of death for the elderly in the USA.

Every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia, which is rapidly becoming a trillion-dollar-a-year industry. Developed countries are budgeting for a big increase in spending on retirement centres and health clinics with dementia-treatment facilities. For example, Britain has stated it wants to become a leading global centre for the treatment of dementia.

A little wine a day

If you are feeling despondent after reading the above, don’t reach for a bottle of the hard stuff. Just reach for a small glass of wine a day.

Middle-aged people who drink the equivalent of 175ml of wine a day are half as likely to develop dementia as those who abstain from alcohol, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

And it was a serious study. Researchers tracked more than 9 000 British civil servants over 23 years, and the amount they drank was closely monitored.

This is not an excuse to fill your glass to the full, as research in France shows that a small amount of red wine daily is good for your heart, whereas an excessive amount is definitely harmful.

Congratulations to Helen Keller

The Helen Keller Society in Pinelands, Cape Town, is celebrating 60 years of care. It must be one of the oldest continuous-service retirement centres in South Africa. It provides accommodation and care primarily for people who are blind, visually impaired and hard of hearing.

American author, political activist and lecturer, Helen Keller, was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and when she visited South Africa in 1951 she appealed for building funds for a hostel for blind working women in Cape Town.

The present Helen Keller Society site was acquired from the City Council, and the Society has grown to such an extent that it offers independent living in its cottages, assisted living in its home, and full nursing care in the care centre, complete with entertainment programmes, film shows and occupational therapy classes.

A series of special events at the Society marks its 60 years of outstanding care.