September marks more than just seasons changing. It’s also World Alzheimer’s Month, and September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. Because there’s poor understanding surrounding dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) hosts an annual campaign to raise awareness because it affects around 50 million people and their families worldwide.
This month brings opportunity for people, businesses, and charities to hold events in their communities. The purpose of the campaign is for sufferers, caregivers, and the media to work together to bust myths and break stigmas surrounding the disease.
Let’s take a look at some of the stigmas and how it affects a person with dementia.
Seven Stigmas Surrounding Dementia
1: People with dementia cannot take care of themselves or others
This reasoning causes feelings of frustration, disempowerment, and ultimately reduces their quality of life. People with dementia are capable of living fulfilling lives when given the right support, and should not be underestimated because of their condition.
2: Having this disease is equal to suffering
People could become disheartened and believe that life is not worth living because of such stigmas. This is not the case at all, as people with dementia can still enjoy their lives and have meaningful interactions with those around them. Additionally, it is important to remember that dementia is not a form of punishment, and those who have it should not be seen as less than anyone else.
3: People with dementia are unaware of what is happening around them
Dementia affects different people in different ways, but many people with dementia are still aware of what is happening around them. They may not be able to communicate or express themselves effectively, but they can still see, hear, and feel. So, assuming that they are unaware of what is happening around them could make them feel useless, out of control, and not willing to participate in life.
4: Dementia patients are useless and need someone to constantly take care of them
Sadly, they are often excluded from conversations, ignored, and could lead to them feeling isolated. But it is wrong to assume dementia patients are useless because they can still contribute to society in some way. They may not be able to work anymore, but they can still help out around the house or spend time with their loved ones. They also do not need someone to constantly take care of them – family and friends can visit them and help out from time to time.
5: Others assume that people with dementia are “not really here”
People often feel unacknowledged and constantly looked over. People with dementia are still present and aware of their surroundings, even if they may not be able to express themselves clearly. To assume that they are “not really here” is disrespectful and ignores their presence and experiences.
6: If you have Alzheimer’s disease, you will become aggressive and have ‘behaviors’
This could lead to misunderstanding and shunning for behaving differently. It is wrong to assume that if you have Alzheimer’s disease, you will become aggressive. Some people with Alzheimer’s disease may become agitated or restless, but not all will become aggressive. They just need the right care.
7: There’s no hope if you have Alzheimer’s disease
This could lead to your loved one losing all hope if they feel that nobody else around them has hope. This often leaves people isolated and ostracized. Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease at the moment, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. While the disease progresses over time, therapies and treatments are available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Why the Need for Yearly World Alzheimer’s Day Campaigns?
Although dementia is common in the elderly, it is not a normal part of aging. Yet, it is one of the major causes of dependency among older people. Besides the psychological impact it has on the sufferer, it has a physical, social, and economic impact on families and society too.
Yet, a huge concern for families is overcoming stigmas and 2 / 3 people around the world think that there is little or no understanding of this disease.
The #1 reason that people suffer such stigma is that there is no Alzheimer’s cure. The behaviors associated with dementia are embarrassing and uncomfortable to see and live with.
What Does ADI Hope to Achieve?
Since the first launch of World Alzheimer’s Day in 1994, ADI wants everyone suffering from the disease to take a proactive approach as soon as the diagnosis. By being aware that not all need to be a doom and gloom situation and that daily activities can make a difference.
How Can You Get Involved?
You can support the World Alzheimer’s Day campaign theme and messaging during September and discuss dementia issues with your friends, family, and colleagues. You can also plan your own event and get the campaign materials from ADI. But if you’re unable to run your own event, you can participate in your national Alzheimer’s charity. Or, simply spread the word on social media using #WorldAlzMonth.
A few ideas on events that you can host:
- Alzheimer Café – Dementia patients and their carers get-together for psycho-social support.
- Stopping a clock – Get a famous clock in your city to halt on 21 September for a minute.
- Send World Alzheimer’s Day merch to local television shows and ask tv personalities to wear them while on air. Get them to highlight that there’s no Alzheimer’s cure but treatment helps people live better lives.
- Perhaps get your mayor or president to officially declare 21 September as World Alzheimer’s Day.
- Schedule a public hearing or seminar discussing breaking stigmas surrounding dementia.
- Speak to businesses in your town and see if they’d be willing to raise awareness and speak about the disease in their circle. It’s important to highlight Alzheimer’s treatment methods to evoke empathy for what people go through.
- You could arrange a religious or secular service to acknowledge people with dementia. A candlelight ceremony is a special way to bring awareness to this subject.
- Host a virtual event. This alleviates the problem of the inability to attend due to time constraints or not being close enough to an event.
- Arrange with radio stations to speak to their listeners about the disease.
- Contact local schools and arrange a talk to raise awareness.
- Get in touch with businesses in large buildings and see if they’d be willing to decorate the building in matching colors, decorate with Alzheimer’s ribbons, etc.
- Arrange with your local newspaper to interview someone with dementia or a carer to speak about how to eliminate stigmas.
If You’re a Carer, Why Would You Want to Host an Event?
Because this makes your job so much easier when more people are aware of the stigmas, what the effects are, and what others could do to treat people with dementia better.
What Are the Timelines?
While the entire month is World Alzheimer’s Month, September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. It is also the day when the World Alzheimer Report 2020 was launched. On September 30, the ADI online member event for World Alzheimer’s Month takes place.
While there are nearly 10 million new cases each year, making life worth living for your loved one is possible. Educating yourself and those around you is pivotal and you can do it by attending events through an Alzheimer’s Awareness charity or virtual events dedicated to World Alzheimer’s Day.
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Who started world Alzheimer’s day?
World Alzheimer’s Day was founded in 1994 to be observed each year on September 21 by Alzheimer’s Disease International.
What was the theme of 2018 world Alzheimer’s day?
In 2018, World Alzheimer’s Month was themed ‘Every 3 Seconds’ to highlight the importance of recognizing the disease and combating the stigmas surrounding it.
How to celebrate World Alzheimer’s day?
Some meaningful ways to commemorate World Alzheimer’s day include:
- Learning more about Alzheimer’s disease and the various stages of the illness.
- Sharing information about Alzheimer’s disease with friends and family members.
- Supporting research initiatives that are working to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Volunteering with or donating money to an organization that provides support to people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
- Spending time with someone who is living with the illness and offering your support.
Is June Alzheimer’s awareness month?
Yes, June is indeed Alzheimer’s awareness month.
What are the colors for Alzheimer’s?
Some of the most commonly cited colors associated with Alzheimer’s are purple, blue, and green.