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World Alzheimer’s Day takes place every year on 21 September and is the focus of World Alzheimer’s month.

September is a month where everyone around the world can join to raise awareness of this debilitating disease and help to shrug off the stigma of dementia.

Although Alzheimer’s and dementia are probably best thought of as illnesses that affect us in old age, they can affect anyone of any age, class, gender, or race.

The theme for this year’s World Alzheimer’s Month is ‘Know dementia, know Alzheimer’s.’ The theme is encouraging people to learn more about dementia and raise awareness. Today, almost 50 million people across the world are affected by dementia, and so it is vital that we all come together to learn more about it, share our experiences, and educate one another.

What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?

Dementia is the name given to a group of symptoms that can affect things like memory, language, and problem solving. It’s not a specific disease but it is caused by specific diseases that affect the brain. An example of a specific disease is Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common diseases that causes dementia but there are others too, like vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects the brain. It occurs when ‘plaques’ build up inside the brain and interrupt how nerve cells communicate with each other, eventually causing them to die.

The most common first sign is mild memory loss. It most commonly occurs in adults over 65 with the risk of developing it, alongside other causes of dementia, increasing with age. However, approximately 1 in 20 people with Alzheimer’s disease are under 65, in this case it is called early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease but there is medication available to help manage the symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
  • anxiety
  • changes in personality
  • confusion
  • difficulty making decisions
  • difficulty with movement and self-care
  • disorientation
  • getting lost in recognisable places
  • hallucinations
  • low mood
  • memory problems
  • speech and language problems
What can I do for World Alzheimer’s Day?

During World Alzheimer’s Month, the Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging everyone to learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. They have lots of free, valuable resources available such as factsheets and booklets.

If you can spare some change, why not donate to an Alzheimer’s charity. Make a note in your diary, World Alzheimer’s Day is Tuesday 21st September 2021.

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