World Alzheimer’s Month throws spotlight on disease risk factors

The event is organized by Alzheimer's Disease International

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by Mary Chapman |

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An illustration of people putting their hands together in a show of support.

As part of this month’s observance of World Alzheimer’s Month, supporters intend to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia by pointing out the risk factors associated with the disorders.

The Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) organizes the event, working with and supporting patient groups in some 120 countries, along with patient caregivers and other organizations. More than 50 million people worldwide are estimated to have dementia, according to ADI.

“During World Alzheimer’s Month, we call on everyone, from individuals to large organizations, including every Alzheimer and dementia association globally, to support World Alzheimer’s Month by getting involved in some way,” the ADI said on the event webpage.

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Risk factors of Alzheimer’s, dementia

This year’s campaign, “Never too early, never too late,” will highlight risk factors associated with the disorders and the importance of acting to mitigate them, even for people who’ve already been diagnosed.

Such risk factors include diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, hypertension, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, social isolation, air pollution, depression, head injury, hearing loss, and low education levels.

“There is a growing awareness that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can start many years prior to symptoms, likewise awareness of the lifelong brain health interventions and choices that can be made,” the ADI stated in this year’s campaign webpage. “With the global number of people living with dementia expected to triple by 2050, there has never been a more urgent need to understand and respond to the risk factors associated with this condition.”

The organization is offering a campaign toolkit in English, French, and Spanish that contains a dementia fact sheet, guides and suggestions for organizing fundraising and awareness events, engaging with the media, and making the most of social media.

In addition to the ADI’s main campaign posters and “social media cards,” the organization is providing downloadable multilingual posters and infographics based on risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Participants are asked to share them on social media with the hashtags #NeverTooEarly, #NeverTooLate, and #ReduceRiskNow.

“There are many ways to get involved with World Alzheimer’s Month, whether it be sharing messages on social media, attending events put on by your national association or fundraising. No action is too small,” the organization states.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada is observing the month by asking supporters to share the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, support efforts such as implementing Canada’s first national dementia strategy, and learn about the stigma of dementia.

World Alzheimer’s Day events

World Alzheimer’s Day is Sept. 21. For it, and in the run up to it, organizations are hosting fundraisers, “memory walks,” and other efforts to support awareness and research for cures and better treatments.

As it has each year since 2009, the ADI will release its World Alzheimer Report on that day. Such reports, which each year focus on a different topic, also make policy and practice recommendations.

In the U.K., the Alzheimer’s Society is marking World Alzheimer’s Day by encouraging supporters to share posts on their social media platforms with the hashtag #WorldAlzheimersDay, volunteer at a memory walk fundraiser, or partake in a fundraising event. The organization will share information about dementia symptoms, the diagnostic process, and U.K. patient and caregiver support services.