Importance of Alzheimer’s and Dementia Awareness

marcwortmannToday’s guest blog comes from Marc Wortmann, Executive Director Alzheimer’s Disease International.

World Alzheimer’s Month is the global awareness month for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. This month is important to have as in large parts of the world dementia is still considered normal part of ageing and not a disease of the brain. In the majority of the countries where we have a member association the focus this month is on awareness raising through a variety of activities like Memory walks, lectures, symposia and social activities. In the more developed countries this month is often used to highlight advocacy opportunities, like the launch of a (draft) national Alzheimer plan or strategy. This year that will also happen in a number of unusual countries like Costa Rica, Mexico and Indonesia. From the G7 countries we are still missing a few, both know that Germany and Italy are working on such a plan and France might launch a new plan this autumn.

Alzheimer’s Disease International coordinates these awareness and public policy efforts and uses the month to launch its World Alzheimer Report. The 2014 report focuses on modifiable risk factors and shows there is strong evidence that cardiovascular risk factors as well as low education contribute to the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. For the cardiovascular factors there is particularly strong evidence for hypertension in mid-life and smoking and diabetes in mid and late life.

Another important development in the dementia world is the G7 initiative, reflected in so-called G7 Legacy Events of which the most recent one was in Ottawa, Canada on 11-12 September. Main outcomes of this meeting were breaking the silos between different research partners like academia and industry and also a commitment to work together between these groups and civil society organisations like Alzheimer's associations in involving more people into research to find a cure or develop better care. This can be beneficial for current as well as future patients. The next event will take place in November 2014 in Tokyo, Japan, and will be dedicated to care for people with dementia.

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