An estimated one-fifth of all Holocaust survivors in Israel suffer from the dementia disease of Alzheimer’s, according to Emda, a volunteer organization that runs a hotline for sufferers and their families. There are an estimated 192,000 survivors still alive.
Prof. Yoram Barak, head of the psychogeriatric department at the Abarbanel Mental Health Center in Bat Yam and a member of Emda’s scientific council, called on the government to conduct a comprehensive survey of the problem and suggest ways to help prevent dementia and how to cope with it.
He said that research in Israel and abroad give backing to the claim that people who suffer from depression are at higher risk to get Alzheimer’s. Many Holocaust survivors suffer from depression due to their personal experiences and losses, he said. Lifelong learning and proper nutrition, Barak said, can reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Emda runs a network of facilities at 55 branches around the country and volunteers to help the country’s Alzheimer’s victims, who number 100,000.