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World Alzheimer’s Day - Let’s Talk About Dementia

World Alzheimer’s Day - Let’s Talk About Dementia

Author -  Samhita Vitta, B.Tech
Medically Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on September 21, 2020 at 6:11 PM
Highlights :
  • World Alzheimer’s Day is celebrated every year on 21st September
  • It aims to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia
  • The theme of World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is ‘Let’s talk about dementia’
  • Early diagnosis of the signs of dementia is crucial to living a quality life as there is no cure for dementia
  • However, there are only treatments to slow down the symptoms of dementia

World Alzheimer's Day is celebrated on 21st September annually as a part of World Alzheimer's Month. It aims to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease and dementia. It highlights the issues faced by people affected by dementia and treatment options available for them. The World Alzheimer's Day theme for 2020 is 'Let's talk about dementia'.

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

Dementia is a collection of diseases for neurological disorders that affect memory, thinking and behavior.

Alzheimer's disease is a common type of dementia. It is a progressive disease that begins with mild memory loss that can lead to conversational problems and the inability of the person to respond to the environment.

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Age is the most significant known risk factor in Alzheimer's disease. People at the age of 65 years and older are at an increased risk of developing dementia.

People with Alzheimer's disease contain two abnormal structures that damage and kill nerve cells.
  • Amyloid plaques - Deposits of a protein fragment called beta- amyloid builds up in spaces between the nerve cells
  • Tau tangles - Twisted fibers of a protein called tau builds up inside nerve cells

Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

There are many signs that a person might experience if they have Alzheimer's Disease.
  • Difficulty in remembering newly learned information
  • Memory loss that affects daily activities
  • Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home or work
  • Trouble handling money
  • Poor judgment
  • Changes in personality, mood or behavior
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding spatial relationships and visual images
  • Challenges in solving problems or planning
  • Withdrawal from social activities or work
Signs of Alzheimer's disease or dementia may be more evident to family members or friends.

Early diagnosis and intervention methods can improve the quality of life for the person with Alzheimer's disease.

Treatment Options for Alzheimer's Disease

There is no cure currently for Alzheimer's. However, there are treatments to slow the worsening of symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's disease.

Treatment mainly focusses on:

Facts about Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):
  • Around 50 million people have dementia worldwide
  • There are nearly 10 million new cases of dementia every year
  • Alzheimer's Disease is responsible for 60-70% of dementia cases
  • Around 5-8% of people over the age of 60 have dementia
  • It is projected that the number of dementia cases will reach 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050
  • Rise of dementia is mostly attributed to people living in low- and middle-income countries
  • Dementia also affects young people and is known as young-onset dementia
  • Young-onset dementia is responsible for 9% of the cases

History of World Alzheimer's Day

World Alzheimer's Day is an initiative of Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI).

World Alzheimer's Day was first launched on 21st September 1994 at the opening of ADI's annual conference in Edinburg to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of ADI.

World Alzheimer's Day 2020

World Alzheimer's Day is celebrated every year on 21st September. The theme of World Alzheimer's Day 2020 is 'Let's talk about dementia'.

The main objectives of World Alzheimer's day are:

World Alzheimer Report 2020

Every year ADI launches a World Alzheimer Report on World Alzheimer's day.

The World Alzheimer Report 2020 is titled 'Design, Dignity, Dementia-dementia-related design and the built environment'.

The report talks about the best practices, design principles, applications, innovators, regional and cultural contexts and the importance of including dementia people in every stage of the design process.

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia during COVID-19

Dementia does not increase the risk of developing COVID-19. However, dementia-related behaviors may increase the risk of COVID-19.

For example, people with Alzheimer's disease may forget to wash their hands, increasing the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Dementia patients need to stick to their daily routine. However, COVID-19 may disrupt the daily routine and have effects on the behavior of dementia patients.

Disruption of routine may also increase stress and result in loneliness and sadness in dementia patients.

Dementia caregivers need to notice the worsening of dementia symptoms and seek immediate medical attention if needed.

Five Foods that Boost Brain Health

The food a person consumes may play a role in preventing Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The five foods that can boost brain health are:
  • Walnuts - Walnuts can improve memory as they are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats. They are rich in a type of omega-3 fatty acid which can protect arteries and lower blood pressure.
  • Fatty fish - Fatty fishes are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats that can lower blood levels of beta-amyloid. Eating salmon, cod, or canned light tuna twice a week can be beneficial.
  • Broccoli - Broccoli is a good source of vitamin K. It can enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. It also contains glucosinolates, which play an essential role in maintaining acetylcholine in the central nervous system. Low levels of acetylcholine are associated with Alzheimer's disease.
  • Avocados - Avocados are rich in omega fatty acids and vitamin E. Vitamin E may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Whole grains - Whole grains contain omega 3, complex carbohydrates and vitamin B that support normal brain function.
In summary, it is important to spread awareness about Alzheimer's disease and dementia on World Alzheimer's Day. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can help the person live a more quality life.

References :
  1. World Alzheimer Report 2020: Design, Dignity, Dementia: dementia-related design and the built environment - (https://www.alz.co.uk/research/world-report-2020)
  2. Alzheimer's Disease - (https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm)
  3. What is Alzheimer's Disease? - (https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers)
  4. World Alzheimer's Day 2020: History, Theme and Facts - (https://www.aviancetechnologies.com/world-alzheimers-day-2020-history-theme-and-facts/)
  5. World Alzheimer's Day 2020: 5 foods to include in your diet to boost brain health, reduce risk of disorders - (https://www.timesnownews.com/health/article/world-alzheimers-day-2020-5-foods-to-include-in-your-diet-to-boost-brain-health-reduce-risk-of-disorders/655498)
  6. Dementia - (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia)
  7. Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tips for Dementia Caregivers - (https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/coronavirus-(covid-19)-tips-for-dementia-care)

Source: Medindia
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