Alzheimer's Disease Needs Worldwide Collaboration

Eric J. Hall Health Guide
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a huge health issue—bigger than any of us, bigger than just for those in the United States to tackle. It is clearly a universal crisis and one that needs to be addressed by all nations of the world.

       With 26 million people worldwide currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and the incidence expected to quadruple by 2050, this type of epidemic aggressively requires all hands on deck. Only by joining these hands together will we be able to meet the challenges of both finding a cure and providing optimal care to those affected now and in the future.

       On the cure front, the gathering of international scientists at the world’s leading forum on dementia research this past summer made it clear that some of the best minds on the planet are aggressively pushing forward to find new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

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        On the care front, it’s time, too, for greater awareness-raising and action. Of course, each country’s efforts on its own are making a difference in this regard. Imagine the difference a worldwide collaboration could make.

        What better time to bring this up than right after World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21 and while the UN General Assembly was meeting in New York this past week.

         With the city flooded with these distinguished UN delegates, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) reached out to them to encourage them to join with us on several initiatives—initiatives that have gained strength in the United States and which, we believe, can gain even greater strength if embraced around the globe.

        Our suggestions for collaboration include providing people with additional education about prevention and the importance of early detection, ongoing disease management and caregiver support.

        As well, we are inviting countries to participate in our memory screening initiative aimed at proper detection of memory problems and education about successful aging. November 18marks AFA’s 6th National Memory Screening Day, an annual event in which qualified healthcare professionals at community sites nationwide provide free confidential memory screenings to those concerned about memory loss or who want to establish a baseline score.

        We are already making some headway in crossing borders with this initiative. On November 18, the Alzheimer’s Foundation for Caregiving in Canada, a sister organization to AFA, will introduce the initiative in Canada. Imagine how effective it would be if National Memory Screening Day was duplicated country after country—all around the globe.

        Likewise, we are inviting foreign countries to contribute to the AFA Quilt to Remember, a powerful arts project that pays tribute to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The AFA Quilt to Remember marks the first grand-scale dementia-related quilt that pays tribute to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, their caregivers and healthcare professionals, and now includes more than 100 heartfelt quilt blocks crafted by individuals and organizations across the United States.

  •       Recently, the quilt received its first international panels—from Canada and Brazil. Just like the panels from the United States, they richly reflect lives touched by this disease. Here, too, imagine how powerful it would be if the AFA Quilt to Remember expanded into an international patchwork of people’s lives.

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          Lifting Alzheimer’s disease from the national stage to the international stage is a challenge we share—and we must face now for the good of all individuals with the disease, their caregivers and future generations all around the globe.

Published On: October 02, 2008