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World Alzheimer’s Day 2021: Know dementia, know Alzheimer’s!

by Public Health Update

The World Alzheimer’s Day is an international awareness campaign to raise awareness and highlight issues related to people affected by dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day takes place on 21 September. World Alzheimer’s Day is an opportunity for people and organisations advocate on dementia and its impact.

Dementia – a condition that groups symptoms of impaired memory, thinking, behaviour and emotional control problems resulting in a loss of autonomy.

The World Alzheimer Report 2021

Key findings from the report include:

  • 75% of people with dementia globally are undiagnosed, equating to 41 million people
  • Clinician stigma still a major barrier to diagnosis, with 1 in 3 believing nothing can be done
  • 90% Clinicians identified additional delays/wait times due to COVID-19
  • 33% of clinicians in our survey believe that nothing can be done about dementia so why bother

Key recommendations include:

  • Healthcare systems globally should introduce annual brain health check-ups for the over 50s, facilitated by evolution in biomarkers science, with the opportunity to promote risk reduction strategies
  • Governments globally must urgently start to measure and record diagnosis more accurately. Accurate measurement of diagnosis rates is the key to treatment, care and support, to healthcare system preparedness, and to challenging stigma
  • Governments must prepare for a tsunami of demand for healthcare services as a result of global ageing populations, improved diagnostics, including biomarkers, and emerging pharmacological treatments.
  • Improved dementia training and education, plus increased time allocation for diagnosis in primary healthcare. This is with the intention of combatting a lack of skills and confidence and to remove the counter-productive time pressure on primary care doctors when dealing with a complex and sensitive diagnosis and disclosure.
  • Healthcare systems must invest in, and improve, diagnostic capabilities, moving towards precision diagnosis, to eradicate high levels of misdiagnosis.
  • Improved disclosure training required for clinicians to communicate a diagnosis transparently and sensitively, providing information on next steps, clinical follow up, condition evolution, treatment options and importantly direction to post diagnosis support options.
  • National awareness raising campaigns must address the stigma surrounding dementia, especially in some low-income countries where up to 90% of cases go undiagnosed as well as actively promote awareness of the warning signs, in line with action area two of the WHO Global action plan on dementia.

Download: The World Alzheimer Report 2021

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