World Alzheimer's Month takes place every September as a period to raise awareness of the impact dementia has on older adults across the globe. In the U.S. alone, approximately 5.3 million adults have Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association. It's important that everyone, from doctors and caregivers to friends of someone impacted by memory loss, is spreading word of the condition this month.
World Alzheimer's Month was launched in 2012 by London's Alzheimer's Disease International. This followed the organization's decision to make Sept. 21 World Alzheimer's Day in 1994. While the 21st remains a worldwide day of awareness, ADI thought that one day wasn't enough time for Alzheimer's associations throughout the world to educate people on the condition, according to ADI's website.
One of the first steps toward raising awareness of Alzheimer's disease is educating people on important facts concerning the progression of the illness and the number of older adults that it affects around the world. Here are a few essential facts that everyone should know in honor of World Alzheimer's Month:
1. Many seniors with Alzheimer's don't know they have it.
According to ADI, the early signs of dementia include problems speaking or finding the right words during conversations, behavioral changes and difficulty with daily tasks like dressing. However, even after these symptoms are recognized by a health professional, only 45 percent of patients are told by their doctors of their diagnosis, explained the Alzheimer's Association. This failure to disclose the diagnosis to patients and their caregivers can prevent seniors from receiving the early treatment they need.
2. Dementia is impacting more people every year.
ADI estimated that around 44 million people in the world are currently living with dementia. While this is already a high number, it's supposed to continue to increase over the years, rising to 135 million by 2050.
3. Alzheimer's leads to premature death.
Many people know that Alzheimer's disease causes debilitating memory loss that can make daily tasks difficult. However, it's essential that individuals are aware that Alzheimer's is actually the sixth leading cause of death among the U.S. population, explained the Alzheimer's Association. As there is currently no cure for dementia, the disease is the only illness in the country's top 10 causes of death that can't be prevented or even slowed, noted the source.
4. Dementia is among the most costly diseases in the U.S.
The cost of treating and caring for Alzheimer's patients is around $226 in the U.S. this year, according to the Alzheimer's Association. As the number of individuals with dementia grows, so will the annual cost associated with the disease. By 2050, it will rise to $1.1 trillion if doctors are still unable to slow or prevent the disease.
5. There are events across the world that raise awareness and funding.
If people feel that they want to contribute to the effort to educate and raise awareness, there are events like Walk to End Alzheimer's taking place that they can partake in. Visit the Alzheimer's Association's page to find a walk near you.