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World Alzheimer's Month 2013
Dementia: a journey of caring
World Alzheimer's Month was launched on the 1 September with the theme ‘Dementia: a journey of caring.’ Associations focused their campaigns on advocacy and awareness with information provision, Memory Walks, media appearances and free memory screenings taking place across the globe. On World Alzheimer's Day (21 September), ADI published the 2013 World Alzheimer Report which looked at the issue of long-term care. The study was launched with three roundtable events in Washington DC, London and Beijing.
This year, media presence featured heavily in member campaigns. Alzheimer's Australia launched Love, Loss and Laughter on World Alzheimer's Day, an online film made in partnership with Cathy Greenblat. Incorporating this year's theme, Sint Maarten distributed free DVDs to carers. Alzheimer Indonesia encouraged audiences to get involved in their talkshow using social media website Twitter. Other associations used the internet to raise money, with Alzheimer's Association Lebanon launching their fundraising #IRemember Twitter campaign.
Other popular activities included Alzheimer Cafés, photography exhibitions and sports events. Workshops such as South Korea's ‘Healing Camp’ were also held for carers and people with dementia. Alzheimers New Zealand launched their first Champion for Dementia, actor Colin Mathura-Jeffree while ARDSI in India put on street plays and musical events.
As well as raising awareness, many associations utilised World Alzheimer's Month as a time to fundraise and recruit volunteers, reporting marked increases in new volunteers coming forward to offer their time. Other organisations found that their events had changed their approach to their services, such as Ligue Alzheimer in Belgium who were enlightened by the success of their art sessions and Zimbabwe, who had used ‘laughter therapy’ during their events.
Overall, most ADI members reported a rise in interest and enquiries to hotlines and inboxes as a result of their increased presence during September. Nepal reported that, ‘one year ago people were not aware about diseases like Alzheimer's and now they are talking about it and its consequences.’ Latin American countries similarly described a much greater dialogue taking place, both in the media and in the healthcare profession. Each year, more and more countries are participating in World Alzheimer's Month events and dementia continues to receive more media coverage each year
September marked advocacy milestones for associations in Mexico and Israel, who obtained renewed commitments to national dementia action in their country. FEDMA in Mexico attended the signing of the letter of intent to assist in the creation Alzheimer's Action Plan, while the Alzheimer's Association of Israel reported that the National Program for Dementia was due to be launched at their conference in November. Many others held meetings with government officials to further their objectives of making dementia a public health priority. September also saw Alzheimer's Ghana holding their first World Alzheimer's Month information provision event in Accra.
A time for reflection
September was also a time of quiet reflection and recollection for the millions of people worldwide affected by dementia. ADI hopes that the work of its members during World Alzheimer's Month can go some way to positively help to shape the future of Alzheimer's care and awareness. We would like to thank everybody who was involved in activities and we look forward to another successful campaign next year.