ADI interviewed by major Japanese newspaper ahead of G20 meeting

20 October 2019 – During a trip to Japan in October last year, Paola Barbarino was interviewed by Asahi Shimbun newspaper in Tokyo. The purpose of the trip was to engage with Ministers, Parliamentarians and the media around the G20 Health Ministers Meeting, which took place in Okayama, which resulted in major commitments to dementia.

Asahi Shimbun – one of Japan’s largest national newspapers – has been active in helping to promote dementia friendly movements in the country. ADI would like to thank Noriyo Washizu of Alzheimer’s Association Japan (AAJ) for coordinating and also Takuji Kiyokawa, staff writer and Kayo Tomono, Chief Editor of Asahi, for shedding light on this important topic.

This is an excellent example of how ADI can work with its members to draw national media attention to important topics such as this. Please contact for any opportunities.

Pictured: Paola Barbarino (ADI) and Noriyo Washizu (Alzheimer’s Association Japan) with members of The National Diet of Japan

70,000 responded to the global survey on Attitudes to Dementia

  • ADI conducted a global online survey targeting people living with dementia, their carers, and healthcare professionals involved in the dementia field and the public,
  • The result shows that lingering discrimination and negative attitudes to dementia still exist in the world.
  • Asahi newspaper interviewed Paola Barbarino, CEO of Alzheimer’s Disease International, about future strategies, including in the area of dementia risk reduction.

  • The number of people living with dementia is more than 50 million at present and it is estimated to increase threefold, to 152 million by 2050.
  • ADI conducted a global online survey from April to June 2019 and collected almost 70,000 responses from 155 countries and published the results on 21 September 2019, World Alzheimer’s Day.
  • The results were analysed according to four categories; people living with dementia, family carers, medical professionals, and the general public.
  • According to the report, over 85% of people living with dementia answered that people do not take their opinions or ideas seriously.
  • 52% of family carers reported having health problems and 49% have problems with work due to caring of their family members who have dementia.
  • 20.2% of the general public said they would hide their dementia when meeting people. (The number is 19.7% in Japan)
  • Regarding the perception of dementia, 63.6% of the general public think people living with dementia are impulsive and unpredictable and the number in Japan is 46.8%.

Dementia, Forward the society with no need for guilty feeling

Interview with Paola Barbarino

interviewed by Kayo Tomono, Chief writer








35 of family carers hide the diagnosis of a person with dementia

T: What do you think about the result of the survey?

P: 35 % of family carers have hidden their family members’ dementia. It is conceivable that they were afraid of discrimination and isolation after coming out. The wife of the person with dementia in Mexico – one of the case studies in the report - considered committing double suicide. One of the people living with dementia answered that his wife divorced him because of his dementia. Another answered that “my doctor started to talk to my family carer instead of me when he found I had dementia”. These are shocking stories.

T: How to bring the result into play?

P: We use these results to abolish the discrimination and to change attitudes to dementia, calling for governments to collaborate with civil society organizations across the world, such as Alzheimer’s Association Japan. Also, care for people living with dementia is a very important and urgent issue. Governments tend to emphasize prevention more than care, taking a forward-thinking perspective. But they should put more effort into developing the quality of care now.

T: what do you think about the situation in Japan?

P: I commend the Japanese approach. The broad outline of dementia policy announced in June 2019 includes harmonious coexistence. The idea of social inclusion is very significant. Japan is aware of this issue and is taking action.

Risk reduction is possible but perfect prevention is not.

T: Another main agenda is prevention. What do you think about prevention?

P: Prevention is by no means the wrong word. But there are complicated matters regarding the word “prevention”. There is no conclusive scientific evidence to prevent dementia completely. Statistic studies show that no smoking, exercise and reduced alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of developing dementia. However, there is no evidence that this definitely prevents you from developing dementia. Therefore, “risk reduction” is a more appropriate expression instead of “prevention”.

T: There is also an apprehension that the emphasis of prevention can have a negative impact on people living with dementia and that they might feel difficulty in their lives.

P: People living with dementia should not feel guilty because there is no prevention for dementia. If the word prevention causes them difficulty, changing the word is one strategy. There might be an appropriate expression in each language. Japan had such experience, when they changed the word for dementia from “Chihosho” which means idiot and senile to “Ninchisho” which means cognitive impairment syndrome.