September 21 Marks World Alzheimer's Day
Often I’ve focused my shareposts on what’s happening concerning Alzheimer's disease around the United States. However, Alzheimer’s isn’t limited to the U.S.’s 50 states. In fact, September 21 has been proclaimed World Alzheimer's Day™ 2009 and will be commemorated across the globe. This year’s theme is “Diagnosing Dementia: See It Sooner” and the day’s purpose is to raise awareness around the world about this terrible disease.
So what is Alzheimer's grasp around the globe? The website of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) reports:
“There are an estimated 30 million people with dementia worldwide. By 2050, it is projected that this figure will have increased to over 100 million. Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already more than 60% of people with dementia live in developing countries, but by 2040 this will rise to 71%. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbours.
Alzheimer's disease accounts for more than 50% of cases of dementia in Caucasian populations, but this may not apply to other national or ethnic groups, and more research is needed in this area.
To estimate the numbers of cases of dementia, we apply prevalence rates from studies to population figures. Very little is known about the prevalence of dementia outside the more developed countries (Europe, North America, Australasia and Japan), so it is difficult to estimate the number of cases of dementia worldwide. ADI supports the 10/66 Dementia Research Group, which aims to quantify prevalence and incidence rates in developing countries, so that we can make better estimates in those regions.”
To raise awareness, numerous events are planned around the world for September 21, including the following countries: Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cuba, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Macedonia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, TADA Chinese Taipei, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Additionally, many nations have organizations that are focused on Alzheimer’s. The capacity of associations in different countries can vary. ADI reports, “Alzheimer associations bring people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, their caregivers and family members, health and social care professionals, researchers, scientists and politicians together through shared concern for people with dementia. These associations are dedicated to providing support to people with dementia and their caregivers through:
* Practical and emotional help such as help lines and support groups
* Information and advice
* Advocacy to governments
* Training for caregivers and professionals
More established associations also provide services and undertake research.” A complete list of these organizations can be found at Alzheimer's Disease International.
During the 2008 event, ADI created a Global Alzheimer's Disease Charter to draw attention to focus governments and stakeholders on taking action to make Alzheimer’s and other dementias a world health priority. You can still sign the petition here.
So there are many ways you can mark Sept. 21 – by participating in one of the events coordinated by your nation’s Alzheimer’s organization, by signing ADI’s charter, or by donating money to fund research and programs that provide critical support to those with Alzheimer’s and caregivers. I hope you’ll join me in doing so.