World Alzheimer's Day
Posted by Francis Whitehead on September 21, 2023
Every year on the 21st of September is World Alzheimer’s Day, which aims to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the impact it can have on families, and what support you can get.
A report commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Society showed that over 900,000 people in the UK live with some form of dementia, which makes up a staggering estimated figure of over 55 million people worldwide.
In this article, we will discuss the different ways how Alzheimer's can impact someone’s life and share ways you can get involved to make a difference.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that mainly affects memory, language and impairs daily function. It is responsible for somewhere between 60% and 80% of all dementia cases.
It was named after Germany psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, who was the first to identify the disease while treating a German woman in 1901.
As we age, our brains naturally begin to shrink and our thought processes slow down. However, in Alzheimer’s disease, changes that occur in the brain are much different to the changes seen in normal ageing.
In Alzheimer’s disease, two proteins, called amyloid and tau, begin to build-up which damages more and more brain cells over time. This damage affects how our brains work and leads to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s affects everyone differently, but some of the most common symptoms are:
- Memory loss
- Confusion and needing help with daily tasks
- Difficulty concentrating, planning or organising
- Problems with language and understanding
- Changes in mood and behaviour
These can all vastly impact someone’s daily life, and without the proper help and support can lead to disruptions in routine, medication being forgotten, and general discomfort and confusion in daily life.
Are Alzheimer’s And Dementia The Same Thing?
Often people use the terms “Alzheimer’s” and “Dementia” interchangeably, but are they the same thing?
Dementia is actually an umbrella term that is used to describe degenerative brain disorders that cause a loss of brain function.
Alzheimer’s Disease is one of those disorders. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for over half of all dementia diagnoses.
While someone with Alzheimer’s may be able to remember things from many years ago, it is their short-term memory that is affected.
Typical early signs include forgetting someone’s name, forgetting recent events, getting lost, forgetting appointments, and losing items.
Individuals often go on to develop other problems, such as repeating themselves and have difficulty planning and organising everyday tasks, such as making a meal too.
With brain function deteriorating, it can lead to more severe outcomes, with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease being the leading cause of death in 2022. Collectively they accounted for 65,967 deaths (11.4% of the total), up from 61,250 (10.4%) in 2021.
This harrowing statistic has led to the theme of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Day being “Never too early, never too late”, which focuses on risk factors for dementia and making proactive lifestyle changes to potentially delay or even prevent the onset of dementia.
Living a healthy lifestyle can greatly benefit your brain health, which in turn reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the future. Keeping active, eating well and keeping yourself stimulated by engaging in social activities can all make an effort to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
The NHS has a wealth of resources to help you make some beneficial lifestyle changes, including their BetterLife campaign for healthy eating, as well as their Make Smoking History campaign.
You can make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of physical activity every week, from doing household chores, walking the dog, or joining a sports club.
Even 10 minutes of brisk walking can increase our mental alertness, energy, and improve our mood!
There are many risk factors linked to dementia, with the greatest being age. World Alzheimer’s Day wants to smash the misconception that dementia is a normal part of ageing.
This World Alzheimer’s Day, there are many ways you can make a difference and show your support. For example, every year you can do a sponsored Memory Walk, ran by the Alzheimer’s Society. You can also do sponsored cycling, zipline challenges and even skydiving in the name of Alzheimer’s Research UK!
The aim of these is to raise funds for charities that provide support for those who live with dementia and Alzheimer’s and go towards research.
Currently, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but with enough research it may very well be possible.
You can donate to the Alzheimer’s Society and/or Alzheimer’s Research UK, and even donate in someone’s memory.
You can also make social media posts, relaying your experiences with Alzheimer’s or just to show your support. Purple is the colour of Alzheimer’s Awareness, so you can always wear purple too.
Making a Difference in Someone’s Life
Although living with Alzheimer’s, or knowing someone who does is never easy, there are many dementia care and daily living aids that can make it a more manageable experience.
For example, dementia clocks can help people keep track of the time and day, and door signs can help people associate and remember what purpose a room is for.
Vibrant colour coded dining aids also play a large part in mealtimes, helping minds associate colour with a certain time of day for eating. Some of our favourites are the Duo Bowl, Duo Plate, Beaker and cutlery. These dining aids are available in bright and attractive colours, making them a sought-after addition to any mealtime.
This colour coded strategy also extends to bathrooms, with vibrant grab rails also available.
Pill dispensers can also play a big part in helping people remember their medication too.
Get in Touch
How will you be making a difference this World Alzheimer’s Day? Ability Superstore would love to know! Don’t forget about the many ways you can better not only your life, but the lives of those around you with lifestyle changes, support and dementia aids.