What you need to know about World Alzheimer’s Day Sept. 21

Each year on September 21, Alzheimer’s disease research and support organizations come together to raise awareness about the condition as part of World Alzheimer’s Day. Because the person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease often requires care, the community of supporters extends well beyond those diagnosed with the disease.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive, degenerative disease that causes loss of memory and the ability to perform many independent tasks. The disease was named for the German scientist who identified it in the early 1900s. The disease is commonly associated with aging, but dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. In Alzheimer’s disease, abnormal protein configurations, called plaques and tangles, lead to deterioration and loss of brain cells. It is a challenging disease to experience, because people affected tend to lose pieces of them slowly over time. Scientists have discovered some genes associated with developing the disease, and have linked certain lifestyles with an increased risk. People who have more sedentary, less mentally-engaged lives may have a higher chance of developing the disease. Adults over 65 are most at risk for developing the disease, as are women, who tend to live longer than men.

Worldwide Statistics

Worldwide, more than 45 million people have dementia, with 7.7 million new cases diagnosed each year. Of these, about 65 percent are attributed to Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s and Medical Alarms

Medical alert monitoring systems can add in a second layer of security for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Since there are no numbers to remember to dial, medical alerts present a simple way caregivers can ensure their loved ones receive the help they need 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Top 3 Caregiving Tips from Alzheimer's Foundation of America

  1. Educate yourself about the disease. Read books, attend workshops and consult with healthcare professionals. Subscribe to AFA’s free caregiver magazine, AFA Care Quarterly.
  2. Foster communication with physicians. Be involved in your loved one's medical care. Ask questions about the progression of the disease, express concerns and discuss treatment options.
  3. Reach out for care. Call the Alzheimer's Foundation of America—866.232.8484, for counseling, information and referrals to local resources nationwide.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, World Health Organization, Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s