Actions in September put Alzheimer's and other dementias in focus

Actions in September put Alzheimer’s and other dementias in focus

Every three seconds someone develops a type of dementia, Alzheimer’s being the most frequent, responsible for about 1.2 million people diagnosed in Brazil and more than 55 million worldwide. The data are from the Ministry of Health (MS) and the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), partner federation of the World Health Organization (WHO); but there are projections for that number to triple by 2050, reaching around 152 million people.

O World Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Day, which takes place on September 21, brings to light the need for a greater perception of people regarding the issue of aging and dementia. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the life expectancy of Brazilians has already surpassed the 76-year mark, accumulating an increase of 31 years since 1940. Chronicles of the Day Association (CDD)an organization that aims to raise awareness of chronic diseases, created a new work front focusing on successful aging and plans different actions to support and demystify the concept of health after the age of 60.

“The project is in line with that of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which encourages the promotion of healthier aging, by designating the years from 2021 to 2030 as the Decade of Healthy Aging in the Americas”, explains Fernando Aguzzoli Peres, journalist and coordinator of the Successful Aging and Dementia group at CDD. The PAHO document details possible strategies for the attention and health care of the elderly. Among the different points, the text shows that the pace of growth in the number of people over 60 years of age has been increasing mainly in developing countries, such as Brazil.

“We are living longer, and there is no better indicator for the successful way in which a society evolves. However, we need to abandon the image that being successful in the way of aging is associated with aging without diseases or chronic conditions”, he explains. The challenges of dealing with aging do not start after the diagnosis, when the person is already under treatment and the caregivers are established, but long before that. According to data released by the ADI in 2019, 62% of professionals health professionals believe that dementia is a normal part of aging and a large portion of the population does not seek guidance due to stigma.

“The help could increase the time and quality of life for these people. Stigma is still very strong in our society, and the more we can give voice to people and families experiencing multiple experiences within the context of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, the sooner we will be able to understand the symptoms, seek and accept the diagnosis, in addition to planning better. our aging and the way we would like to be taken care of in the future”, comments the journalist.

According to him, due to the different types of prejudice and lack of knowledge on the subject, the CDD’s actions to raise awareness among the population are focused on mitigating the negative effects of diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s. “It is possible to age well even with Alzheimer’s, and that means having a family that is well supported to face the challenges of everyday life”, says Fernando Aguzzoli, who was the caregiver of his grandmother Nilva when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Campaign expands discussion on Alzheimer’s and dementias

Among CDD’s strategies to talk about the theme is the launch of the podcast “Aging”, which talks about the aging process associated with challenges such as Alzheimer’s. According to the journalist, the program raises a pertinent question: “Is it possible to age successfully when diagnosed with dementia? Well, and the answer comes through creative, humorous and informative dialogues with professionals from the most diverse fields, as well as family caregivers and people who are going through the diagnosis”, he says.

To celebrate the world day of pathology, a lecture will be held on September 21, at 7 pm, called “Alzheimer’s Not the End”, with Fernando Aguzzoli, when he will share his experience as a grandson caregiver. In 2023, the walk “Walking The Talk for Dementia” will end CDD’s first year of action in the search for public policies and visibility for Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. “The global project aims to bring people from all over the world, including people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, to make together the most famous pilgrimage route: Santiago de Compostela”, comments the journalist.

Another ongoing project is the cookbook “Para Não Esquecer”, which brings a collection of family recipes at risk of being forgotten due to the diagnosis of dementia. Fernando explains that many recipes are responsible for bringing up memories of when the family gathered at the table. “We want to preserve these memories as a family, not letting valuable recipes in affection die in time”, he stresses. People who are interested can apply through a form to have their family recipe selected for the book.

The idea of ​​the cookbook came about due to a fear that exists in family members and caregivers. For the geriatrician and coordinator of the Geriatrics nucleus at Santa Casa de Porto Alegre, Dr. Virgílio Olsen, this fear of being forgotten is real in those who live with Alzheimer’s in a family member. “As much as the person doesn’t recognize the face and doesn’t call you by name, the love built during a lifetime cannot be erased by dementia and this is because affective and emotional language still connects the person with dementia and their family”, explains.

The doctor also comments that the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease can alleviate symptoms and slow the rate of advancement of the pathology. “An early diagnosis has a great impact on the way Alzheimer’s will be treated, and on the time the family will have to understand the next stages, structure their support network and question the person’s wishes”, he emphasizes.


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