September 21st 2014 marks the third global World Alzheimer's Day; an international campaign set up by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) which focuses on raising awareness and challenging stigma surrounding the disease.
ADI co-ordinates World Alzheimer’s Day through organisations across the globe. Members of these organisations are encouraged to organise an event on the day which focuses on advocacy and awareness. This takes form in the way of information provision, memory walks, media appearances and free memory screenings.
What is Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?
Dementia is a word used to describe different brain disorders that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. Early symptoms of dementia can include memory loss, confusion, difficultly performing familiar tasks, problems with language and mood changes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Other causes include vascular disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and fronto-temporal dementia.
While the ADI are working on many possible leads, there is currently no cure for dementia. What they do provide is a range of support for people with dementia and their carers. There are currently estimated to be 44 million people worldwide living with dementia. The number of people affected is set to rise to over 135 million by 2050. The cost of helping those with dementia is growing and organisations rely on the public to help to provide this support.
How Can You Participate?
There are several ways you can participate in World Alzheimer's Month. Here are a few ideas:
If you feel very passionately about the cause and feel that you want to make a difference, why not run your own fundraising event? Whether you are holding a bake sale or running a charity ball, every donation goes to a great cause. If you’re not sure where to start, the Alzheimer’s Society UK have a huge wealth of resources and information available on how to fundraise on their website.
2. Take Part in an Event
There are many events that take place during the day which you can take part in, particularly memory walks. These are a series of walks which take place across the UK which encourage people to raise money and awareness. There is no registration fee, but they ask that you try to raise £50 to help fight dementia in your local area. If you are looking for one near you, have a look at the memory walk site, which provides you with all the information you need.
You can volunteer with the society on any of their fundraising event throughout the year. To find one that suits you, have a look at the event finder which allows you to choose the type of activity, location and date. Volunteering provides you with a wealth of benefits including meeting new people and learning new skills. Read out article on the benefits of voluntary work in retirement to inspire you to get involved.
If you want to make a difference but have difficulty with getting physically involved with the cause, you can make a donation. Any donation, big or small can make a difference. For example, £5 could pay for one person to attend a half hour session at a monthly Dementia Café and £50 could fund a PhD researcher for one day to continue vital research.
Many of us have someone close to home that suffers from dementia and it affects the entire family. The stigmatisation of dementia is a global problem and it is clear that the less we talk about dementia, the more the stigma will grow. World Alzheimer’s Day encourages you to find out more and play your part in reducing the stigma and improving the lives of people with dementia and their carers in your community.