Efforts to Mark World Alzheimer’s Day, Sept. 21, and Month Are Well Underway

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by Mary Chapman |

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Individuals and organizations internationally are marking World Alzheimer’s Day, Sept. 21, by focusing efforts on increasing awareness and challenging stigmas about Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. For the seventh consecutive year, September is World Alzheimer’s Month.

Every 68 seconds, someone somewhere develops the progressive disease that impairs memory and other mental functions so seriously that it interferes with the patient’s daily life. Worldwide, about 50 million people have Alzheimer’s. 

Efforts surrounding World Alzheimer’s Month — an international campaign by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) — include Walk to End Alzheimer’s events; the release of a documentary; and encouraging the use of the multiple-language toolkit, as well as social media banners. Campaign materials can be found here. Organizations are asking participants to use the hashtags #WorldAlzMonth and #WAM2018.

The toolkit includes key messages, a members list, materials and resources, posters, bulletins and graphics, along with general information about dementia, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global plan on dementia, top ways to lower dementia risk, World’s Alzheimer’s Month 2018, and how to use social media to raise awareness. Last year on Twitter, the recommended hash tags garnered over 800,000 impressions.

The WHO’s 2017 plan, effective through 2025, focuses on dementia awareness, risk reduction, diagnosis, care and treatment, care partner support and research.

Organized by the Alzheimer’s Association, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is held annually in more than 600 communities across the U.S. It’s the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. To find a Walk nearby, visit this site.

The association is committed to advancing important research toward methods of treatment and prevention, and finding a cure.

To support this year’s World Alzheimer’s Month, ADI — the umbrella organization of 94 Alzheimer’s associations globally — has released the documentary “Every Three Seconds,” a frank discussion about current conditions and the future of the disease.

During World Alzheimer’s Day, ADI will also launch its World Alzheimer Report 2018,  “The state of the art of dementia research: new frontiers,” which looks at the hopes and aspirations, the barriers and enablers to improving dementia research globally.

ADI empowers national associations to promote and offer support to people with dementia and their care partners. Globally, it advocates for policy change from governments and the World Health Organization.

For this year’s campaigns, groups and individuals may get involved by contacting the Alzheimer’s association in their specific country. Go here for a listing. For more information on events for World Alzheimer’s Day, visit here.

While World Alzheimer’s Month has succeeded in raising awareness, stigmas and misinformation linger. In fact, two of every three people globally believes there is little or no understanding of Alzheimer’s in their respective countries, organizers said.

For example, although the majority of Alzheimer’s patients are at least 65, it is not true, as is widely thought, that the disease is a normal part of aging. Roughly 200,000 U.S. residents under 65 have Alzheimer’s.

Still, in what is being hailed as the world’s largest Alzheimer’s survey, most adults believe that a cure for the disease will be found within their lifetimes. The survey was conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of pharmaceutical companies Amgen and Novartis, and the Arizona-based Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.

The impact of the 2017 World Alzheimer’s Month campaign can be found here. Events were held during the month in more than 50 countries. Activities included Memory Walks, conferences and public awareness campaigns, and dementia care partner training.