World Alzheimer's Month

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Health Assured team

01 September 2021

World Alzheimer’s Month takes place every September. This year—it’s celebrating its 10th anniversary. The month brings people together to raise awareness of the disease and the stigma that comes with it. During the month, there’s also World Alzheimer’s day on the 21st of September. Below you’ll find more information and tips to support someone with Alzheimer’s.  

What is Alzheimer’s? 

Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain. It’s caused by complex brain changes that come from cell damage. This cell damage then causes dementia symptoms. Dementia is a general term used to describe a group of symptoms like memory loss, language, thinking or problem-solving. There are many different causes and types of dementia. But it’s estimated that Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases¹. 

Alzheimer’s disease typically starts with mild symptoms. Things like forgetting the details of a story or taking longer to think things through. As the condition worsens, these problems can begin to affect day-to-day life more. Typical problems include: 

  • Getting lost on a familiar journey.
  • Struggling to follow a conversation.
  • Losing track of the days and dates.
  • Difficulty arranging plans and organising appointments.
  • Problems carrying out tasks that need concentration (e.g. cooking a meal).

These symptoms can make life extremely difficult for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. It can often also lead to behavioural changes and isolation from others. There isn’t currently a cure for dementia. But some treatments can help to ease the symptoms. 

Supporting people living with Alzheimer’s 

Life with Alzheimer’s can be challenging and confusing. Here are five tips that can help if you’re supporting someone living with Alzheimer’s. 

  • If they are still living at home, make it as dementia-friendly as you can. Check the lighting is adequate. Try to avoid patterns and remove any mats or rugs. Put everyday items in an accessible spot and get rid of any clutter that could cause confusion. 
  • Nutrients are key. But people with dementia symptoms may not be able to sense that they are hungry or thirsty. Overcome this by making meals smell and look as good as possible. You could try smoothies or shakes too. Try to get them involved somehow by asking them to set the table or make the drinks if they can. 
  • Movement. Physical exercise can improve the wellbeing of someone with Alzheimer’s. Things such as gardening, walking, swimming and dancing can all offer a boost. If they are struggling with physical symptoms, chair-based exercises can also be beneficial. 
  • Communicating can be difficult for people with Alzheimer's. If their symptoms affect hearing and speech, consider this when chatting to them. Try to minimise any background noise like the TV. When talking, try not to overwhelm them with lots of questions. Interrupting them could break their train of thought, so try not to if possible. 
  • Social connection. The effects of dementia can be isolating. Finding new activities to try like books clubs, music groups and walking groups could be a big help. 

¹ Alzheimer’s association, What is Alzheimer's? Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. Available at: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers [Accessed August 26, 2021]. 

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