01 September 2023 | Opinion | By Chris Lynch, Deputy CEO and Policy, Communications and Publications Director, Alzhiemer’s Disease International (ADI), UK
World Alzheimer’s Month has grown dramatically and September 2023 marks the 12th year of this vital global awareness raising campaign
In the absence of a universally available disease modifying treatment or cure, risk reduction represents one of the few tangible interventions that individuals can undertake to potentially prevent or delay the onset of dementia later in life. Risk reduction, post-diagnosis of dementia, is also an expanding area of knowledge which could also help ensure those living with the condition live well and remain independent for longer. However, few, including those living without a diagnosis, are aware of the risk factors and what they themselves can do to help address them.
The evidence and innovation to support the effectiveness of risk reduction for dementia is mounting. In 2020, the Lancet Commission published their evidence to suggest that up to 40 per cent of cases of dementia could be delayed or reduced by addressing just 12 modifiable risk factors. Likewise, the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation determined that improvements in education worldwide were predicted to result in fewer people living with dementia worldwide by 2050. Unfortunately, however, this reduction was predicted to be offset by 7 million cases attributable to projected rates of obesity, high blood sugar, and smoking.
In light of the mounting evidence suggesting a tangible and practical benefit to employing risk reduction as a tool to potentially help reduce the predicted increases of dementia, a number set to increase from 55 million today to over 139 million by 2050, Alzheimer’s Disease International and its federation of 105 Alzheimer and dementia associations worldwide are raising awareness of risk reduction, through this year’s World Alzheimer’s Month campaign.
Every September, people come together from all around the world to raise awareness and to challenge the stigma that persists around dementia. Since its inception, World Alzheimer’s Month has grown dramatically and September 2023 marks the 12th year of this vital global awareness raising campaign. During the campaign ADI Members will host events, work with the media and raise the profile of the key campaign themes and hashtags, #NeverTooEarly, #NeverTooLate, #ReduceRiskNow and #WorldAlzMonth on social media. Through the campaign together we hope to educate and inform the public on the potential contribution that risk reduction can have on helping people live healthier and longer lives. These efforts will culminate in the publication of the World Alzheimer Report 2023 on September 21, which will provide tangible advice and information for those looking to reduce their risks.
Additionally, throughout the campaign, Alzheimer’s Disease International and our members are actively encouraging governments to assist and support their own citizens in these efforts. Dementia currently costs the global economy $1.3 trillion, a figure set to increase to $2.8 trillion by 2030. Through risk reduction, governments could potentially reduce this expenditure and increasingly, evidence is suggesting that these inventions can also be cost-effective.
It is our hope that through this year’s World Alzheimer’s Month campaign we can empower individuals with the knowledge and information they need to make a positive change to their lives, with the ultimate aim of potentially preventing or delaying their chances of developing the condition.
Chris Lynch, Deputy CEO and Policy, Communications and Publications Director, Alzhiemer’s Disease International (ADI), UK