World Alzheimer’s Month: know dementia, know Alzheimer’s
Written by Heather Hewett
“Know dementia, know Alzheimer’s” is the theme for World Alzheimer’s Month 2022.1 In this update, Heather Hewett, Medical Writer and member of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, shares some initiatives that you can get involved in.
September is World Alzheimer’s month
Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in cognitive ability that is characterized by symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty articulating thoughts, and changes in personality or behavior. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for up to 75% of cases.2
While the entire month of September is designated World Alzheimer’s Month, the focal point of the month is World Alzheimer’s Day, which takes place yearly on 21 September. This date coincides with the annual release of Alzheimer’s Disease International’s (ADI’s) World Alzheimer Report.3
In 2021, ADI reported that over 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia, with an estimated 75% of people with dementia remaining undiagnosed. In some low- and middle-income countries where stigma and lack of disease awareness serve as barriers to diagnosis, the percentage of people with undiagnosed dementia may even reach 90%.4
Real-life impact of Alzheimer’s
Not only is Alzheimer’s disease debilitating to the patient, but its impact permeates the daily lives of entire families and others close to the patient, for example:
an aging husband, struggling to walk as he learns to cook and care for his wife who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
a daughter who takes early retirement to care for her mother diagnosed with a progressive form of the disease
a grandchild, struggling to pay for assisted living because they cannot afford to quit their job to act as caregiver to the grandparent who raised them.
Due to the disease’s prevalence, you would be hard-pressed to find someone whose life has not been affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
How can I get involved, learn more, or support Alzheimer’s associations?
Stay informed. ADI has produced multiple reports and resources that serve as a comprehensive source of global information on dementia.5 In some communities there isn’t a word for dementia, but learning more through resources like these, initiating conversations, and sharing experiences is a great first step in raising awareness.
Engage with people living with Alzheimer’s. If you don’t know someone personally, you could volunteer at your local Alzheimer association.
Volunteer, participate in, or organize a fundraising event. The Alzheimer’s Association’s “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” event is held annually in more than 600 communities in the US.6 In the UK, the Alzheimer’s Society organizes fundraisers ranging from concerts to skydiving.7 Contact your local or national Alzheimer’s association and enquire about their fundraising events.
Donate. If you are able to donate, there are many local, national, and global Alzheimer’s associations that accept monetary donations that will help in advancing research and the delivery of vital support and care to patients and families that have been affected by dementia.
Support your colleagues who are affected by dementia. This free guide from the Alzheimer’s Society includes real-life case studies from businesses and gives practical advice for ways to support your colleagues who are affected by dementia.8
If you try any of these ideas or if your organization is supporting Alzheimer’s associations in other ways, we’d love to hear about it – please get in touch.
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