Supporters hope to shine spotlight on disease affecting millions in US

National Alzheimer's Awareness Month seeks to recognize impact of disease

Lindsey Shapiro, PhD avatar

by Lindsey Shapiro, PhD |

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With November comes National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, an annual effort to recognize the impact of the neurodegenerative disease in the U.S., where about 6.2 million people are affected by it.

Each November, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) offers supporters a range of different ways to raise awareness and support efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease, and this year will be no different.

Central to AFA’s efforts is the annual “Light the World in Teal” campaign, where buildings are lit up in teal — the foundation’s awareness color.

More than 1,000 structures were expected to be lit up at this year’s event, held on Nov. 2. Among them was the New York headquarters of Axsome Therapeutics, a company developing the investigational Alzheimer’s therapy AXS-05. Other locations across the country, including landmarks in Texas, Boston, Atlanta, and New York were also lit up.

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Foundation encourages supporters to wear teal, share on social media

Throughout the month, AFA is encouraging people to “Go Teal” by dressing in the color and posting their photos, as well as Alzheimer’s information and tips for healthy aging, on social media using the hashtags #TealforAlz, #AFAlighttheworldinteal, #Alzfdn, or #AlzheimersAwarenessMonth.

The foundation is also highlighting some of its initiatives that are available year-round, including its free virtual memory screening program and the National Toll-Free Helpline staffed by licensed social workers trained in dementia care.

Upcoming AFA-sponsored events include:

  • Nov. 3: During the AFA Fireside Chat, brain health and the factors that contribute to dementia as people age will be discussed with George Perry, PhD, professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The event will be held from 1-3 p.m. ET.
  • Nov. 15: Starting at 10 a.m. ET, AFA will host a segment of its Educating America Tour in Philadelphia. The half-day event will involve talks from several experts in the field, with free memory screens available.
  • Nov 16: A live, interactive webinar called Family Dynamics in Dementia Care will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET. The course will explore topics like effective communication among family members and relationships between patients and care partners. Attendees may ask questions during the presentation, with a Q&A session to follow.

Various local efforts are being held throughout the country. For example, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center will host its 4th Annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Symposium on Nov. 9 from 9 a.m-3 p.m. in-person and on Zoom. Registration is free.

The federal government, as well as local and state governments, including California, have officially proclaimed November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Meanwhile, companies developing technologies to improve Alzheimer’s diagnosis and care are getting involved.

uMethod, a health technology company providing a tool to improve care for people with cognitive decline, has pledged to educate the public on Alzheimer’s risk factors and the importance of early intervention.

“Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is a crucial time for us to collectively shed light on the factors contributing to Alzheimer’s disease,” Vik Chandra, CEO of uMETHOD, said in a company press release.

Synaps Dx, a company focused on diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s, is also honoring awareness month as well as National Family Caregivers Month, similarly held each November.

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National Family Caregivers Month recognizes importance of caregivers

“Alzheimer’s Awareness and National Caregivers months are important occasions to recognize the burden of AD [Alzheimer’s disease] and celebrate the caregivers dedicated to looking after those affected,” Frank Amato, Synaps Dx’s CEO, said in a company press release.

“With over 11 million people in the Unites States providing unpaid care for those with AD or other forms of dementias, [Synaps Dx] seeks to make the AD diagnostic process faster and more accessible by providing clarity through an early and accurate AD diagnosis,” he added.

National Family Caregivers Month aims to spotlight family caregivers and the important role they play in caring for people with chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Led by the Caregiver Action Network, this year’s theme is #CaregiversConnect, which is a nod to the importance of caregivers finding their own support systems.

“Whether it’s with other caregivers, in a support group, at church, through a helpline, or with their loved one, these connections can help caregivers feel less isolated and alone,” Marvell Adams, Jr., the network’s CEO, said in a press release.

More information about the campaign can be found on the organizaion’s website.