World Alzheimer’s month in the Americas

Sept. 16, 2019

An Americas-wide campaign launched by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) aims to get people talking more comfortably and openly about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

ADI and PAHO are working to deliver the joint dementia awareness campaign for the Region of the Americas this September, as part of the PAHO Regional Plan of Action on Dementia (2015-2019).

The campaign, with materials available in five languages, encourages that often-difficult first conversation and then aims to demystify dementia and to get people talking. Stigma surrounding dementia in the region is still a major barrier to people accessing help, advice and support. Stigma can be similar to that around some mental health issues, be focused on age-related stigma, be based on a lack of available medical treatments and even attributed to factors like being bewitched, but there is so much support available across the region and talking and planning can help people to live well for as long as possible.

ADI’s member associations in the Americas and PAHO country offices will collaborate to deliver the campaign, which will engage the general public and also targets doctors and other primary health care practitioners to raise awareness.

Alzheimer’s Disease International CEO, Paola Barbarino, says. “We need to get people talking more comfortably about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Dementia is one of the most significant global health and social care crises in the 21st century, with someone developing it every 3 seconds, but the stigma that surrounds it, and a lack of available treatments, means people delay talking about it and delay seeking advice and support, losing valuable time.

“On World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21, ADI will launch our World Alzheimer Report on global attitudes to dementia, based on a survey of almost 70,000 people across 155 countries. A key finding in that survey shows that 95 percent of general public respondents believe they will develop dementia in their lifetime. We must break through the stigma and get people talking openly about dementia to plan well, to access support and even to participate in research”.

Dementia is a syndrome that affects memory, other cognitive abilities and behavior that interfere significantly with a person’s ability to maintain their activities of daily living. Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not a normal part of ageing. Alzheimer´s disease is the most common form of dementia.

Deaths due to dementias more than doubled between 2000 and 2016, making it the 5th leading cause of global death in 2016, compared to 14th in 2000. The prevalence of dementia around the world is increasing exponentially, with the number of people living with dementia predicted to triple from 50 million currently to 152 million by 2050.

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