As September comes to an end, so too does World Alzheimer’s Month, the ninth annual international campaign to raise global awareness of dementia.
Coordinated by Alzheimer’s Disease international, an umbrella organization of over 100 prominent Alzheimer’s organizations, Alzheimer’s Month aims to raise awareness of dementia and to try and combat the stigma and misinformation that surrounds it.
Obviously, this event is close to the hearts of many of us, with careers being part of a minority of people that are all too aware of the impact dementia has on individuals and their families.
Sadly, the main issue regarding dementia is a lack of awareness by the public and even policy makers – most people will not even realize that World Alzheimer’s Month has come and gone!
It is perhaps appropriate that this year’s campaign slogan is ‘let’s talk about dementia’, as most people have a lack of awareness about the disease, despite the fact there are over 50 million people globally living with dementia. This figure is expected to triple in the next 30 years.
Of course, this year has been something of an anomaly, with Covid-19 capturing most of the headlines and limiting the campaigning that is possible for World Alzheimer’s Month.
However, the current global pandemic has only shone a light on the lack of awareness and preparedness of health systems have when caring for patients with dementia. With lockdowns and restrictions coming and going, many people are avoiding trips to their physicians, meaning it is likely many new cases of dementia are going undiagnosed.
Therefore it is vital that we continue to speak up and spread awareness about dementia!
If you feel there is a chance a loved one is suffering from symptoms of dementia, do not hold back in visiting a doctor, even if you are in lockdown.
Sadly, one of the big issues surrounding Alzheimer’s is a lack of awareness about the symptoms. Most assume your memory starts to go, which is certainly an aspect of the disease, although there are many other signs that could indicate the development of dementia.
- Memory loss
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Struggles with language
- Disorientation to time and place
- Struggles to keep track of things
- Erratic changes in mood/behavior
- Poor or decreasing judgment
- Misplacing things
- Social withdrawal
If you are already caring for someone with dementia, we encourage you to talk openly with friends and family, as it makes an incredible difference educating more people on the disease and its impact.
We don’t just mean the obvious impact on the individual living with the disease, but also the impact on you as a caregiver.
Don’t overlook the importance of this, as an estimated 35% of global carers hide the diagnosis of a family member with dementia. Further, 50% of caregivers globally also say their overall health suffers because of their caregiving responsibilities.
These things can only change when there is a wider acceptance that dementia is a chronic disease that requires comprehensive action on a global scale. The more people talk about dementia and its effects on everyone from the patient to the carer, the more awareness increases, and with it, better policies on detection, diagnosis, and potential treatments.
The impact of World Alzheimer’s Month continues to grow in a positive direction, yet there is a lot more left to do, and we can all contribute towards change. Start spreading awareness in your own community, talk with friends and family about the impact the disease has had on your life, or consider getting involved in campaigns for your local Alzheimer’s association.
September may be over soon, and with it, World Alzheimer’s Month, but the fight to spread awareness can never stop. So, no matter what month or time of year, let’s make sure we keep talking about dementia.