Updated on September 21, 2023
World Alzheimer’s Day, celebrated on 21st September every year, is a day to create awareness and support people with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a global opportunity given to many of us to come out, talk about, and serve people with this debilitating condition that makes the late stage of an individual’s life extremely challenging and distressing. Around 6 million people in the US are living with Alzheimer’s and this number is expected to rise to 13 million by 2050. On this World Alzheimer’s Day, Revival Research Institute pledges to serve individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
In this blog, our focus will be on discussing the theme of World Alzheimer’s Day, the stigma associated with living with Alzheimer’s and how the community can play its role in helping individuals with this cognitive condition.
Significance of World Alzheimer’s Day
Alzheimer’s disease results in nerve cell death and tissue loss in the brain. Over time, the brain shrinks markedly, affecting the overall functioning of the brain. This is one of the reasons why dementia is so common in Alzheimer’s. The brain loses its functions resulting in memory loss and cognitive decline. These symptoms grow severe enough with time to disrupt the daily lives of the affected individuals.
It is, therefore, imperative to understand the condition and the significance of World Alzheimer’s Day as it is not an ordinary day but a day to spread awareness and play our roles in whatever capacity we can.
Days like World Alzheimer’s Day hold significance as these days are solely dedicated to talking about the condition, its symptoms, causes, and impact. Moreover, these specified days are devoted to spreading awareness regarding the condition on a larger scale.
World Alzheimer’s Day recognizes the efforts of caregivers who try their best to care for their loved ones by offering support and resources.
Advocating for Research:
This day serves as a platform for advocating clinical research. The goal is to find treatments, interventions and cures for this debilitating condition.
Role of Clinical Research in Advancing Treatment Modalities for Alzheimer’s
Today, Alzheimer’s disease clinical research is at the frontline of medical research. Researchers are constantly working to unveil many aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical research is underway worldwide to find potential treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the ways in which clinical research is helping advance Alzheimer’s treatment options include understanding disease mechanisms for developing targeted treatments, early detection using diagnostic tools and biomarkers. Moreover, clinical research helps improve our understanding of providing care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease with compassion.
Theme of World Alzheimer’s Day 2023
This year the theme for World Alzheimer’s Day is “never too late, never too early”. The aim is to underscore the pivotal role of Alzheimer’s disease risk factors identification, and strategies for risk reduction. Understanding these details can help create significant impacts.
Improving lifestyle aimed at reducing risk factors can minimize the risk of dementia and the long-term effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
National Economic Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease – World Alzheimer’s Day
In 2023, the expenses associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are projected to reach a staggering $345 billion for the nation, excluding the contributions of unpaid caregiving, making dementia one of the most financially burdensome conditions for society.
Some facts regarding the cost of Alzheimer’s disease include:
The estimated lifetime expense of caring for an individual with dementia amounts to $392,874.
Individuals who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia experience twice the number of hospital stays per year as compared to their elderly counterparts.
Elderly individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related conditions tend to have a higher frequency of stays in skilled nursing facilities and receive more home health care visits per year than their non-dementia counterparts.
A significant portion of elderly individuals who utilize adult day services and nursing home care consists of those living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Reasons Why Alzheimer’s Patients Avoid Consulting Their Physicians
Alzheimer’s patients may exhibit reluctance to see a physician for several reasons, and overcoming this challenge requires understanding their concerns and addressing them appropriately. This World Alzheimer’s Day, our goal is to educate people about the importance of early diagnosis and intervention.
Here are some common reasons for their reluctance and potential strategies to overcome them:
Lack of Awareness:
Many Alzheimer’s patients may not recognize or acknowledge their cognitive decline. They might deny or downplay their symptoms or may consider it just another sign of normal aging.
Encourage regular health check-ups and involve family members or caregivers who can provide information about changes in behavior and cognition.
Stigma and Fear:
There is often a social stigma associated with dementia, and patients may be apprehensive of the diagnosis and its implications.
Create a supportive and non-judgmental environment for discussing their concerns. Instruct them and their families about the condition and available support services.
Loss of Independence:
Alzheimer’s patients may fear losing their independence if they receive a diagnosis. They may worry about being hospitalized or confined at home.
Emphasize that early diagnosis and intervention can assist in maintaining independence for longer. Discuss care plans that allow them to stay at home with adequate support.
Memory and Cognitive Impairment:
The cognitive impairments associated with Alzheimer’s can make it difficult for patients to remember or understand the need for medical appointments.
Provide clear and simple explanations. Involve caregivers or family members to assist with scheduling and transportation.
Distrust of Healthcare Providers:
Some patients may have had negative experiences with healthcare providers in the past, leading to a lack of trust.
Choose healthcare providers experienced in dementia care who can build trust through compassionate and patient-centered care.
Alzheimer’s can impact communication skills, making it hard for patients to express their concerns or understand medical instructions.
Use clear and concise language. Involve caregivers or support groups to help bridge communication gaps.
Fear of Medications and Procedures:
Patients may fear the side effects of medications or invasive medical procedures.
Explain in detail the purpose and benefits of treatments. Consider non-pharmacological approaches where appropriate.
Transportation and Accessibility:
Patients with Alzheimer’s may face challenges with transportation to medical appointments, especially in advanced stages.
Offer transportation assistance or consider telehealth options if suitable for assessments and follow-ups.
The fear of a dementia diagnosis can be emotionally distressing, leading to avoidance of medical consultations.
Provide emotional support, connect patients with mental health professionals or support groups, and emphasize that a diagnosis can lead to access to appropriate care and support.
In summary, World Alzheimer’s Day should be celebrated in full swing with a promise to make a difference in the lives of people living with this condition. For this, addressing the reluctance of Alzheimer’s patients to see a physician must be catered to. It involves a patient-centered approach, clear communication, and the participation of caregivers and support networks. Building trust, reducing stigma, and highlighting the benefits of early diagnosis and intervention are key strategies to overcome this challenge.