Alzheimer’s Disease International and Hamad Medical Corporation urge everyone to know the warning signs of dementia
New research suggests neurological impact of COVID-19 can accelerate dementia symptoms and related brain pathology
- ADI and HMC warn that COVID-19 could further add to the dementia pandemic
- Globally, millions could face increased or accelerated risk of dementia, as a consequence of long-COVID
Doha, 5 September 2021: In support of World Alzheimer’s Month, which is marked annually in September, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), the global federation of over 100 Alzheimer’s and dementia associations across the world, including Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), are encouraging everyone to Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s. The ability to recognize the warning signs of dementia and to seek out information, advice and support can potentially lead to a timely diagnosis and early intervention to help people living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be a challenging and difficult process and varies greatly around the world. In addition, the stigma which still surrounds dementia means that many people avoid seeking a diagnosis until the later stages of the condition. ADI CEO, Paola Barbarino says “Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of dementia enables people to seek out more information, advice and support, potentially leading to a diagnosis. Knowing these signs is even more important now than ever.”
“Forecasts estimate that dementia cases will rise from 55 million to 78 million by 2030, with costs rising to US$2.8 trillion annually. We urge the WHO, governments and research institutions across the globe to prioritise and fund research and to establish resources in this space, to avoid being further overwhelmed by the oncoming pandemic of dementia.”
Dr. Hanadi Al-Hamad, Qatar’s National Lead for Healthy Aging and the National Dementia Plan, explained that although awareness of dementia is increasing around the world, knowledge of specific conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other disease that cause demtia, remains low. She has been a strong advocate of promoting public and professional awaress to support patients living with Alzheimer’s, their families, and communities.
“With Qatar’s Public Health Ministry recognizing the notion that Dementia is a public health priority, we were tasked to develop the Qatar National Dementia Plan 2018-2022, designed to improve the lives of persons with dementia and those who care for them and their family members, and reduce the impact of dementia on them, and on society in general. Promoting public awareness about the signs and symptoms of dementia, encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle that reduce the risk of dementia, and providing targeted training for different healthcare professionals are key to achieving the National Dementia Plan goals,” said Dr. Al-Hamad, who is also the Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute at Hamad Medical Corporation.
“A strategic aim is to work with local and international stakeholders and experts to promote capacity and capability in the field of biomedicine, medical care, public health, applied research on dementia that is centered on the need for innovation, and patient-centered science will help facilitate our understanding of the basic mechanisms that lead to the emergence dementia,” added Dr. Al-Hamad.
Emerging research is showing that the neurological impact of COVID-19 on the brain can increase both a person’s likelihood of developing dementia, and the rate that dementia-related pathological changes develop in the brain. ADI has established a working group of leading dementia researchers to conduct and monitor research into this emergent field. Barbarino comments “We need people to be aware of the possible link between long-COVID and dementia, so they know to self-monitor for symptoms and catch it in its tracks. We are calling on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments to urgently fast track research into this concerning area”
Barbarino says that knowing the warning signs of dementia and knowing more about the link between COVID-19 and dementia is essential to building a global plan and national responses. Past pandemics have shown the value in knowing the link between novel infectious diseases and progressive neurological disorders.
“It is incredibly important that the public, especially those people at risk of developing dementia, know about the potential impact of long-COVID on their brain health, and measures are put in place to protect them. We need the WHO, governments and research institutions to prioritise and dedciate funds to the research needed to better understand the link between COVID-19 and dementia,” says Barbarino. “Globally healthcare systems are already unprepared for the forecast increases in dementia cases, prior to this new COVID-19 related risk. We need only to look at previous pandemics to see the vital importance of research and preparedness.”
“Dementia is not going away. We need to act now to be prepared for any additional pressure following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This World Alzheimer’s Month #KnowDementia #KnowAlzheimers - Spot the Warning Signs