Kiwis are encouraged to wear purple tomorrow to mark World Alzheimer’s Day, held on 21 September each year to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. September 2018 will mark the seventh World Alzheimer’s Month; the campaign was launched in 2012.
Two out of every three people globally believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their countries. The impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is growing, but the stigmatisation and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem that requires global action.
Here in New Zealand, dementia is one of our most significant and growing healthcare challenges. Four out of five Kiwis are affected by dementia in some way, and the number of people living with dementia in New Zealand is expected to nearly triple to about 170,000 by 2050.
Alzheimers New Zealand chief executive Catherine Hall says even though dementia is one of New Zealand’s most significant healthcare and social service challenges, there is very little discussion or acknowledgement of its everyday impacts.
“As a society, we must do more to support people with dementia to live well and play a full and meaningful role in their communities.”
In addition to wearing purple tomorrow, the Memory Walks are a great way to raise awareness of the dementia challenge facing New Zealand. Memory Walks are taking place all around New Zealand this month. Most are between one and two kilometres and are being held nationwide between Saturday 15 and Saturday 29 September.
Hall is also calling for the Government to take faster action on dementia.
“The sooner we fully implement the New Zealand Framework for Dementia Care, the better it will be for the many, many thousands of Kiwis affected by dementia.”
Banner image: Memory Walk for Alzheimer’s. Jody Bowman from Alzheimers New Zealand, Colin Mathura-Jeffree, champion for dementia, and Kevin Salmon, Alzheimers New Zealand manager. 17 September 2017 | Photograph by Tania Whyte