World Alzheimer’s Day
Observed annually on September 21st, World Alzheimer’s Day is a holiday designed to raise awareness about this progressive neurological disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior and is the most common cause of dementia in older adults.
Alzheimer’s Disease affects more than 6.7 million Americans. It’s estimated that 10.7% of people 65 years and older have this disorder and that 73% of people with this condition are over the age of 75.
This holiday not only raises awareness about this condition but also aims to provide support to the families of Alzheimer’s patients and raise money for better treatment options for this condition.
The History of World Alzheimer’s Day
Dementia is something that has been around for as long as humans have. In fact, the ancient Egyptians documented instances of mental decline in older adults over 4,000 years ago.
It was also described by the ancient Greeks and Romans. However, during these times, it was often seen as a “curse” or a “punishment” for the sins of the person. It wouldn’t be until the 17th century that it would be recognized as a neurological condition.
This is when Dr. Thomas Willis coined the term “neurology” and described dementia in his book “De Anima Brutorum.” In 1910, a German doctor named Emil Kraepelin would end up classifying dementia into senile dementia and presenile dementia.
He would also become the first person to name the disease Alzheimer’s Disease after Alois Alzheimer, who discovered pathological features of presenile dementia while he was his student.
In 1994, the nonprofit organization Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) decided to celebrate its 10-year anniversary and raise awareness about the growing global incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease around the world by creating World Alzheimer’s Day.
This holiday has been observed every year since to raise awareness about this condition and to help with fundraising efforts.
Observing World Alzheimer’s Day
This holiday is observed by healthcare organizations and private individuals around the world. It’s a day for communities to come together around this issue and spread awareness about this condition.
Some buildings around the world may be lit in purple, the universal color for Alzheimer’s disease, or display a purple ribbon. People can also spread the word about this holiday using the hashtag #WorldAlzheimersDay on their social media accounts. It’s also customary for people to donate money to organizations that are working on a cure for this disorder.