World Alzheimer’s Day, celebrated globally every 21st September, serves as a watershed moment for raising awareness and combating the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease.
Particularly in Asia, where a staggering 23 million individuals are estimated to be living with dementia, this day has played a crucial role in sparking conversations and urging interventions.
This Year’s Unifying Theme: Timeliness in Action
The 2023 theme, “Never too early, never too late,” stressed understanding risk factors, advocating for early intervention, and adopting a long-term approach to managing the disease, even after a diagnosis.
A Closer Look at Alzheimer’s: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
The Underlying Causes
Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60-70% of dementia cases, is a progressive neurological disorder. While ageing is the most significant risk factor, genetics and lifestyle choices like poor diet and lack of exercise are also substantial contributors. In Asia, studies have shown an increasing link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, further complicating the healthcare landscape.
Identifying the symptoms of Alzheimer’s early on is crucial for effective management. Common signs include memory loss that affects daily activities, confusion with time or place, and changes in mood or personality. Therefore, Asian healthcare providers have been emphasising public education to ensure early detection.
Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, available treatments aim to slow the deterioration and improve the quality of life. Medications like Donepezil and Memantine are commonly prescribed. In line with the theme, Asian healthcare systems are focusing more on early interventions, which include medical treatments and lifestyle modifications to manage symptoms more effectively.
How to Take Action on World Alzheimer’s Day
Firstly, you can make a significant difference in the lives of those affected by dementia on World Alzheimer’s Day. Here’s how to dive in:
- Tell Your Story: If Alzheimer’s has touched you or a loved one, your personal experiences can help others feel less isolated and promote understanding. Write a blog post, shoot a video, or have candid conversations with friends and family.
- Amplify Awareness: Use social media platforms to spread the word about World Alzheimer’s Day. Share informative resources, or host or join local events like workshops, seminars, and support groups to educate others.
- Raise Funds: Plan a charity event such as a bake sale, fun run, or quiz night. Register your event with trustworthy organisations like Alzheimer’s International to boost your impact.
- Donate Your Time: Volunteer at local dementia support organizations or care facilities. Assist in activities, offer companionship, or tackle administrative chores.
- Lobby for Change: Reach out to your local politicians and push for more funding and support for Alzheimer’s research and caregiving. Keep an eye on policy changes and make your opinions heard.
Support Strategies for People Living with Alzheimer’s and Their Families
Secondly, raising awareness and participating in World Alzheimer’s Day is just the start. It’s equally essential to support those living with the disease and their caregivers.
- Show Patience and Understanding: Help those with Alzheimer’s who struggle with daily activities or suffer from memory loss. Be ready for shifts in their abilities and behaviour.
- Foster Social Connection: Prevent worsening symptoms by encouraging your loved ones to engage in social activities and meaningful conversations.
- Establish Routine: Creating a daily routine can help minimise confusion and anxiety for Alzheimer’s patients.
- Modify Living Spaces: Make homes safer and more dementia-friendly. Remove hazards, install grab bars, and label important areas like the bathroom and kitchen.
- Encourage Activity: Stimulate body and mind by advocating for regular physical exercise and mental challenges like puzzles or art projects.
- Tap Into Resources: Network with support groups, healthcare experts, and organisations offering specialised advice and services for those dealing with Alzheimer’s.
Support Research and Prevention
Finally, your contributions can have a lasting impact on Alzheimer’s research and prevention.
- Join Research Efforts: Enroll in clinical trials or research studies if you or your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s. Your participation can pave the way for new treatment options.
- Financially Back Research: Support organisations dedicated to Alzheimer’s research, like Alzheimer’s Research UK, with your donations to fuel groundbreaking advancements.
- Advocate Healthy Living: A balanced lifestyle can lower Alzheimer’s risk. Motivate others to adopt a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, build social networks, and commit to continuous learning for cognitive health.