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World Alzheimer's Day
September is world Alzheimers month and today, Friday 21st September, is World Alzheimers Day. This is a day to raise awareness about the needs of people living with dementia & to reduce the stigma and social isolation of people living with dementia.
It is currently estimated that more than 50 million people are living with dementia globally. With these staggering numbers, it is about calling on communities and governments all over the world to commit to addressing this trillion-dollar disease.
In Australia more than 436,000 Australians are living with dementia. An estimated 250 people with dementia join the population each day. Without a medical breakthrough, the prevalence of people with dementia is expected to increase to almost 1.1 million in 2056 in Australia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is the name for a range of conditions that affect the brain, which may result in detrimental impact to memory, thinking, language and the ability to perform everyday tasks. There are many conditions that cause dementia. Alzheimer's is the most common cause, and is thought to affect up to 70% of all cases.
Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible and progressive brain disorder . It occurs when there is a build up of protein in the brain which form plaques and "neurofibrillary" tangles. The plaques impair synapses (the way in which our brain communicates every millisecond of the day) so that signals cannot pass between brain cells. Consequently, the brain slowly deteriorates and doesn't work as it should.
This commonly affects the outer part of the brain first, and consequently, short-term memory loss is therefore one of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease. However, there are also a range of other early signs and symptoms including:
- Getting stuck for words;
- Misplacing things regularly;
- Losing track of time;
- Changes in mood and behaviour and;
- Difficulty in finding the way, even in familiar places.
How does it progress?
The rate of Alzheimers disease varies from individual. A person may live with it from three to twenty years, with the average being seven to ten years. There is currently no single test to diagnose Alzheimers, and diagnosis is made after careful clinical examination. Treatment can help, but unfortunately there is no cure.
National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
For a range of books and videos: https://www.dementia.org.au/library