September marks World Alzheimer’s Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness and challenging stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease. Global health nonprofits such as the Alzheimer’s Association encourage communities around the world to plan special fundraising and awareness events on Alzheimer’s Action Day, which is held September 21st.

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that there are 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 66 percent between 2000 and 2008, while deaths from other major diseases, including the number one cause of death (heart disease), decreased.

Despite the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer's disease, current research remains limited, and Alzheimer’s is still one of the most mysterious diseases to date. Researchers are working to understand the disease’s causes, risk factors, and treatment.

Get to Know the Basics

Alzheimer’s is defined as the most common form of dementia, a general term indicating gradual loss of brain function, and it is a progressive disease that worsens overtime. Common symptoms include memory loss, confusion, difficulty completing everyday tasks, and changes in mood and personality. Alzheimer’s in not a normal part of aging, despite increased age being the largest known cause of the disease.

While there is no current cure, Alzheimer’s patients can receive treatment to improve their quality of life and decrease the chances of triggering behavioral symptoms. Medication, palliative care, as well as alternative therapies have been implemented to treat Alzheimer’s patients.

Advocacy, Action and Awareness

The Obama administration presented its national plan to fight Alzheimer’s disease this past May, a plan that specifically called for greater awareness and research surrounding the disease. The proposed plan budgeted $100 million dollars for efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease. Specific initiatives included increased research, improved tools and resources for clinicians, easier access to information that can help with daily needs of Alzheimer’s patients, and a large-scale awareness campaign.

In addition, there are many ways to show support for such efforts on a local level. On September 21st, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages the public to turn Facebook and Twitter purple by changing their icons to the Alzheimer’s Association “End Alz” icon. They also offer stories on how families are dealing with the disease and tips on how to avoid stigmatizing Alzheimer’s disease.

Springer Publishing Company offers a range of titles focusing on Alzheimer’s disease that offer recommendations on how caregivers can better support Alzheimer’s patients. These include Palliative Care for Advanced Alzheimer's and Dementia and Clinical Alzheimer Rehabilitation.

Palliative Care for Advanced Alzheimer's and DementiaClinical Alzheimer Rehabilitation