Dementia Awareness Week is upon us and brings with it the opportunity to encourage people who are worried about dementia to confront their worries by addressing dementia directly and going to the Alzheimer's Society for information and support.
There are currently nearly 36 million people with dementia in the world but as many as 28 million of those living with dementia worldwide do not have a diagnosis.
The number of people living with dementia worldwide is expected to double every 20 years. By 2050 it is projected there will be 115 million people with dementia worldwide, 71% of whom will live in developing countries. There are over 6 million people with dementia in Europe.
The total estimated cost of dementia worldwide is £380 billion.
The full ugly truth of this incurable disease is not known or understood by enough people. It is not the case that dementia only affects really, really old people, nor are the symptoms just limited to forgetting keys, wearing mismatched shoes and asking the same question over and over. These symptoms, which are commonly portrayed in the movies or television, only last for a few years before the real destruction of the disease begins. After forgetting who they and their loved-ones are, sufferers of the disease then forgot how to speak, feed themselves, dress themselves and go to the bathroom themselves.
Unfortunately, there is still a shame and stigma associated with dementia. As with cancer many years ago, people stricken by the disease will hide, rather than be voices of hope for people in similar situations. However, Dementia Awareness Week is helping to highlight the various support mechanisms in place for people and their families affected by dementia.
Raising awareness, increasing funding and erasing the stigma associated with dementia are becoming increasingly important. Many more public figures are using their money and influence to raise awareness and companies, such as Facebook who have launched the FaceDementia app, are allowing healthy individuals to understand what it may be like to live with dementia.
Whilst Dementia Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to highlight the impact of the disease, it is imperative that it is not put in a box and forgotten about for another year once the week is over.