This month we talk about dementia to build awareness of the disease and support the growing number of people living with dementia.
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
Each year charitable organisations addressing dementia work hard this month to increase knowledge and reduce the stigma felt my those living with it.
Those goals are reflected in the campaign themes.
For World Alzheimer’s Month 2022 it is,
“Know Alzheimer’s, Know Dementia”;
while in Australia, the theme is,
“A little support makes a big difference”.
Every year, DR Care Solutions marks the month by driving awareness through our September blog posts. Today’s post takes up the World Alzheimer’s Month theme.
What is dementia?
Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning.
Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body disease are all types of dementia.
Around 500,000 Australians are living with dementia at any one time.
It can happen to anybody.
Dementia is not a normal part of ageing.
It is an illness.
When does it appear?
The most prevalent type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, is said to commence developing in our brains in mid-life (our 40s and 50s) and become apparent in our later years.
Here are the current Australian statistics:
Over the age of 65, dementia affects almost one person in 10.
Over the age of 85, dementia affects three people in 10.
People under the age of 65 can develop dementia (called ‘younger onset dementia’), but it is less common.
Dementia can sometimes be hereditary, but this is quite rare.
What is going on in the brain?
Research on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is currently focussed on the build-up of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain.
Put simply, amyloid proteins form plaques that clump together and collect between neurons in the brain – disrupting our neural pathways.
Finding a cure
Clinical trials involving drugs that remove amyloid proteins in the brain continue apace throughout the world.
Dr Norman Swan in a recent ABC Four Corner’s program provided an update on anti-amyloid drug trials being conducted at Australia’s research institutions: The Florey Institute, Austin Health and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.
The trials have proven to be effective in removing amyloid from the brain, however, it remains to be established whether there is any cognitive benefit and how long it may last.
Also, the early detection of amyloid in the brain does not necessarily mean you will develop Alzheimer’s. At 65 years of age, around a third of us have amyloid build up yet most of us will not develop Alzheimer’s.
Another cause is the accumulation of abnormal tau proteins in neurons resulting in neurofibrillary tangles. These tangles block the neuron’s transport system, destroying synaptic communication between neurons.
Researchers speak of the need to develop drugs against not only amyloid build ups, but also tau build ups.
While no cure has been found yet, there are ways we can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in our day to day life. More about that next week.
If you are visiting someone living with dementia, download our Dementia Activity Poster for great ideas of activities you can share with your loved one.
Dementia Activity Poster
Activities for Living in the Moment & Enjoying the Present
Visits to a loved one living with dementia can be an amazing and rewarding experience for both of you. But we know it's not always easy knowing what activities to enjoy with them that will be rewarding, fun and comfortable.
We put together a list of enjoyable activities for your visits.
It's free and easy to download; we invite you to get your copy.
Submit the form below and we'll send it directly to your email address.
Seeking care for a loved one? Please feel free to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
 Alzheimer's Disease International: World Alzheimer's Month
 Dementia Australia: Dementia Action Week
 DR Care Solutions: Blogs on Dementia
 National Institute on Aging: What Happens to the Brain in Alzheimer's Disease?
 ABC Four Corners: Holding On To Hope