Kerala is estimated to have over two lakh dementia patients by 2021, said a report on the eve of World Alzheimer's Day, which is observed each year on September 21.
The projected prevalence of dementia among elderly, aged 65 years and above, in Kerala was 1.5 lakh in 2011, according to the latest Dementia-India Report of Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI).
Jacob Roy Kuriakose, chairman of Alzheimer's Disease International, which is the worldwide federation of Alzheimer associations, said the state was going through a period when communicable and non-communicable diseases were either emerging or re-emerging in the state.
In this context, the "social cost" of managing diseases like Alzheimer's would "challenge" the existing health care system, he added.
As research has demonstrated that cigarette smoking could lead to cognitive impairment or isolated memory impairment, Kuriakose said that an effective preventive strategy, including phasing out use of tobacco products, should be put in place.
"One way of doing this would be strict implementation of the provisions of tobacco control legislation and initiate penal action to dissuade use," added Kuriakose, who is also the national chairman of ARDSI.
Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, is characterised by progressive deterioration of intellect, including loss of memory, thinking, learning, orientation, language, comprehension and judgement.
The impact of the disease could be so harsh that patients are even unable to carry out everyday chores.
With no effective treatment available, the medical and scientific community has turned its attention to identifying modifying effects of lifestyle, including smoking.