Theme for World Alzheimer’s Month Is ‘Let’s Talk About Dementia’

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by Mary Chapman |

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Events are underway to mark World Alzheimer’s Month, observed every September to raise global awareness about the disease and challenge the stigma regarding dementia.

September 21 has been designated World Alzheimer’s Day.

Approximately 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia and an irreversible progressive neurological disorder. In the U.S., roughly 5.5 million people — two-thirds of them women — live with Alzheimer’s.

Presented annually by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), the observance was begun in 2012. The theme this year is “Let’s Talk About Dementia.”

“Two out of every three people globally believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their countries,” the organization states on its website. “The impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is growing, but the stigmatization and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem that requires global action.”

As part of its observance, the ADI is highlighting evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected activities surrounding World Alzheimer’s Month, is leading to substantially high death rates among individuals with dementia.

In Canada, for example, 85% of all COVID-19 deaths are among people in long-term care, where two-thirds of patients have dementia. In up to 75% of COVID-19 deaths in care facilities globally, dementia was an underlying condition.

Cognitive impairments associated with dementia also exacerbate many of the challenges associated with the virus, including social distancing, according to a report from the London School of Economics and University College London.

The ADI is calling for a targeted global response.

“We need transparency. Governments must incorporate dementia into COVID response plans to protect the millions of people impacted by dementia globally,” said Paola Barbarino, ADI’s CEO, in a press release. “They deserve dignity, and we deserve justice for those who have sadly died.”

The ADI has a World Alzheimer’s Month toolkit that offers supporters dementia fact sheets, the Global Action Plan on Dementia, key messages, materials and resources, posters, graphics and social media tips.

ADI is the umbrella organization of more than 100 Alzheimer’s associations around the globe. For more details about supporting World Alzheimer’s Month, visit the ADI’s Get Involved page or contact the Alzheimer association in a specific country. Or, you may email [email protected].

Elsewhere, the Alzheimer’s Society is marking the month by highlighting the importance of talking about dementia.

“We know that receiving a dementia diagnosis can leave a person feeling very alone,” the organization states on its website. “We have also spoken to primary carers who feel isolated since their loved one received a diagnosis. But you are not alone. … Let’s shine a spotlight on dementia and highlight how taking the time to talk about dementia can have a huge impact [on] people affected by it.”

On World Alzheimer’s Day Sept. 21, Alzheimer’s organizations and individuals around the world will concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about the disease and dementia. It’s also is viewed as an opportunity to demonstrate how people with dementia can live well.

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