SRINAGAR: Elderly women without formal education in Jammu and Kashmir have 100 percent more risk of developing dementia and cognitive impairment, a University of Jammu study has found.
The research, ‘Comparative Study of Cognitive Functioning of Women Aged 60+ of Jammu and Srinagar’, showed that semi-literate women in the age group of 80 to 100 years and those who have never been enrolled in formal education come under a ‘much worse’ category for dementia.
It was found that illiterate women in the age group of 60 to 70 years face a 65 percent higher risk of developing the condition.
The female literacy rate of Jammu and Kashmir was less than 20 percent in 1951 when most women in the state would stay away from formal education.
“Our research has found that an IQ test of women in the age group of 80 to 100 years is ‘much worse’ than the women in the age group of 60-70 years, which shows a little bit of improvement,” an author of the study, Dr Farhat Masoodi, told Kashmir Reader.
She said respondents over age 80 from two study areas, Srinagar and Jammu, have a mild to moderate range of cognitive functioning.
“Respondents in the age group of 60-70 years have a normal level of cognitive functioning, whereas almost all in the age group of above 80 years fell in the mild to moderate level of cognitive impairment,” she said, quoting her study.
The study has been supervised by the Head of the Department of Home Science, University of Jammu, Prof Neeru Sharma. It covered nearly 300 women in the Srinagar and Jammu districts.
The result of the study reveals that cognitive functioning shows a decline with lowered education, dietary intake and daily life activities.
Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and is marked by memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning. Cognitive decline or impairment is a disorder of problems with memory, learning, concentration or making decisions that affect everyday life. The decline ranges from mild to severe. With mild impairment, people may begin to notice changes in cognitive functions, but are still able to do their everyday activities.
“Severe levels of impairment can lead to losing the ability to understand the meaning or importance of something and the ability to talk or write, resulting in the inability to live independently. Risks for cognitive decline threaten independence and quality of life for older adults,” said Dr Masoodi, who is a research scholar with the Department of Home Science, University of Jammu.
She said the cognitive decline was the most critical problem in Jammu and Kashmir, unlike in other states, where elderly persons are more prone to dementia.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, lack of awareness among people also deteriorates problem and leads to dementia. Even young individuals are facing a problem with cognitive functioning because of less domestic work, less exercise, violation, daily life activities, ecological settings etc,” Dr Masoodi said.