Worldwide, about 50 million people have dementia, 60%-70% being cases of Alzheimer’s disease. And each year, 10 million new cases of dementia are registered as well.
In the United States alone, 5 million Americans are living with the disease, and the number of affected people is projected to reach nearly 14 million by 2050.
Alzheimer’s disease is a formidable condition by itself, and it’s made even worse by the stigma around it. Alzheimer’s Awareness Month attempts to tackle this stigma and help people with Alzheimer’s live their best lives.
When Is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month And What Is It All About?
Local and global associations have their own notions of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In Canada, for example, Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is in January. In contrast, in the United States, Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is in November, as designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.
Aside from that, the London-based Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) has chosen September as World Alzheimer’s Month. World Alzheimer’s Month was launched in 2011-2012 and has been held every year since then.
September 21 marks World Alzheimer’s Day in ADI’s calendar as well. On this day, ADI typically releases the World Alzheimer Report, covering the inclusion of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s in society, the stigma surrounding them, and global trends in Alzheimer’s recognition.
Each World Alzheimer’s Month held so far has had a “theme” attached to it:
- 2011. The theme was “Faces of dementia”, the purpose of which was to promote the recognition of the signs of the disease, as well as the recognition of those who dedicate time to improve the lives of affected people.
- 2012. The theme was “Dementia: Living together”. The 2012 campaign focused on reducing the stigma associated with dementia. In 2012, World Alzheimer’s Month had its first-ever global campaign too.
- 2013. The theme was “Dementia: A journey of caring”. The purpose of the 2013 campaign was to highlight the commitment of caregivers to patients through the course of the disease.
- 2014. The theme was “Dementia: Can we reduce the risk?”, focusing on ways that may help us reduce the chances of developing dementia.
- 2015. The theme was “Remember Me”. World Alzheimer’s Month in 2015 aimed to encourage people around the world to learn to spot the signs of dementia, as well as not forget loved ones who suffer from dementia or who may have passed away.
- 2016. The theme was again “Remember Me”, but it took a slightly different angle, focusing on awareness, the stigma surrounding the disease, and national plans that may help address Alzheimer’s.
- 2017. 2017 marked the third “Remember Me” campaign. This time, the goal of World Alzheimer’s Month was to encourage people to learn about the early signs of the disease and to advocate for early diagnosis.
- 2018. The theme was “Every 3 Seconds”. In 2018, World Alzheimer’s Month highlighted the fact that someone on the globe develops dementia every 3 seconds, emphasizing the disease’s huge global impact.
- 2019. The theme was “Let’s Talk About Dementia”. ADI aimed to emphasize that conversations can tackle stigma, encourage people to start dealing with the disease, and help with early diagnosis.
- 2020. In 2020, the theme again was “Let’s Talk About Dementia”. ADI reiterated the importance of talking about dementia, especially considering the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With that, the goal of World Alzheimer’s Day and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is to raise awareness about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, encourage people to educate themselves about the condition, and minimize the stigma surrounding affected people.
What’s The Stigma Of Alzheimer’s Disease?
You can find plenty of information on the stigma around Alzheimer’s disease, but we’ll give you an overview here anyway.
People with Alzheimer’s disease may be negatively viewed by others, which constitutes the basis of its stigma. Stereotypes around Alzheimer’s may:
- Test or end friendships.
- Change and deteriorate relationships within one’s family.
- Prevent people from getting the medical attention and treatment they need.
- Prevent people with Alzheimer’s from getting the best quality of life.
According to Alzheimer’s Association, stigma is partly fueled by the lack of awareness and understanding of the disease.
Stigma prevents people from seeking medical attention because by addressing a doctor, they make others aware of their disease. And aside from limiting the quality of life of affected individuals, stereotypes hamper research into Alzheimer’s disease.
You can make your own contribution to breaking the stigma around Alzheimer’s by:
- Engaging in discussions about the disease, how it can be prevented, treated, and hopefully cured.
- Share accurate information to dispel misconceptions.
- Seek support and stay connected with your friends or family.
- Don’t be discouraged if people around you don’t understand the disease or deny its significance.
- If you have Alzheimer’s, raise awareness, advocate for more research, and otherwise support efforts aimed at fighting against the condition.
You should also educate yourself about the signs of Alzheimer’s disease and how it can impact one’s life. By making an effort in these regards, no matter how small, you help to combat the negative repercussions of Alzheimer’s that affect millions around the globe.