• 9/12/2023

    Doha 12 September 2023: The global community comes together once again this September to observe World Alzheimer's Month, which is dedicated to raising awareness, challenging stigma, and advocating for support and research in support of people living with dementia. This year’s theme is ‘never too early, never too late’, which highlights the importance of addressing the risk factors for dementia at any stage in adult life.

    Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, causing memory loss, cognitive decline, and a significant impact on daily life. With an aging global population, the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is steadily rising, making it a critical public health concern, particularly since the global number of people living with dementia is expected to triple by 2050. World Alzheimer's Month serves as a platform to shed light on this issue and work towards a brighter future for those living with dementia, including people who have the condition and their family and carers.

    Dr. Hanadi Al-Hamad, Deputy Chief for Long-Term Care, Rehabilitation and Geriatric Care as well as the National Lead for Healthy Ageing in Qatar explained the importance of focusing on the risk factors and risk reduction. “While there has been a huge transformation in dementia perception and care over the last decade, it is hugely important for us to better understand and respond to the risk factors associated with this condition. Many of which are considered to be modifiable risk factors or lifestyle factors, such as high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, unaddressed hearing loss, lack of physical activity, or unmanaged depression. Adopting a healthy lifestyle will promote overall good health, including brain health.”

    There are 12 risk factors that have been widely promoted as having a significant impact on the possibility of whether a person may develop dementia – for a list of the modifiable risk factors click on https://www.hamad.qa/EN/Patient-Information/Updates/Documents/2023/WAM2023-A3Poster-Landscape.pdf

    “This year’s World Alzheimer’s Month theme of ‘never too early, never too late’ highlights the key role of identifying risk factors and adopting proactive risk reduction measures to delay, and potentially even prevent, the onset of dementia. This includes ongoing risk reduction strategies for individuals who have already received a diagnosis,” added Dr. Al-Hamad, who is also the Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute. “We are therefore delighted to arrange activities this month to educate the public as well as deliver specialized training to healthcare staff in understanding the signs and symptoms of dementia and encourage better understanding of the modifiable risk factors linked to lifestyle.”

    Services such as the free and confidential RAHA Alzheimer’s and Memory Services Helpline has been immensely valuable in providing faster access to care and helping to relieve some of the stress that caregivers can feel as the illness progresses and the symptoms of the person they care for worsens over time. The Memory Clinic, which was first set up in Rumailah Hospital, now also provides clinics in several Primary Care Health Centers, provide a specialized service to diagnose memory loss and cognitive decline and advise on suitable treatment options.

    This year’s Alzheimer’s awareness campaign in Qatar is held under the banner of the WHO Collaborating Center for Healthy Ageing and Dementia, a joint program between the World Health organization and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) that is dedicated to the development and strengthening of national and regional institutional capacity and enhancing the scientific validity of its global health work in the field of healthy ageing and dementia care and services.

    Head of this collaborating center, Dr. Hanadi Al-Hamad, explained: “We have built up a wealth of knowledge and experience over the past decade as we focused our efforts on improving the healthcare for our older population. We have developed better access to care and improved pathways to integrated healthcare services that are targeted to the needs of the older adults. The Collaborating Center allows us to share this knowledge through the WHO and benefit from the valuable tools and programs they have as well. The Collaborating Center provides an important platform to facilitate knowledge and research on healthy ageing, including the importance of integrated care and preventative health literacy promotion; as well as improvements in dementia care.”

    Although age increases risk, dementia is not a normal part of ageing. While genetics may play a role in the likelihood of getting one form of dementia over another, dementia can affect anyone and increasing evidence has shown that modifiable risk factors can reduce the risk of developing dementia in later life, especially if addressed in in earlier. Typical experiences of Alzheimer’s disease include:

    1. General loss of memory and cognitive thinking
    2. Changes (sometimes sudden) in mood and/or behavior
    3. Disorientation and general confusion
    4. Loss of ability to speak or hold conversations
    5. Difficulty walking or swallowing
    6. Inability to recognize people, places, and/or time
    7. Inability to participate in activities, including personal care and the requirements of daily life

    There is no cure for dementia presently and symptoms are likely to worsen over time, however, early diagnosis and professional intervention can help the person living with dementia and their family or carers cope much better with the progression of the condition.