World Alzheimer’s Day – from timebomb to tsunami (PLoS an update on patient information and placebos)

Expect lots of news pieces this week about Alzheimer’s disease ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day (WAD) which takes place on Friday 21st September.  This is one of the better ones I have seen, from the Observer yesterday.  Interesting how the language has changed although the message has not – what was once called a timebomb is now a tsunami.

In the UK, this year’s event has more urgency than hitherto thanks to the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge.  And the day actually marks the beginning of a sustained period of activity including a 3-month Government sponsored awareness campaign.

It must be about twenty years ago since the first World Alzheimer’s Day and we should not forget that the disease is a global issue.  If you want more facts and information about this then go to the website of Alzheimer’s Disease International who, it must be said, established World Alzheimer’s Day in the first place.  They also do one of the best international conferences going.

Recalling that very first World Alzheimer’s Day, I believe we tried to get off the ground an idea which essentially involved passing a petition around the world in 24 hours to be rather ceremoniously signed by all the world leaders.  It just shows you the optimism of that time that the stumbling block was not our belief that we could get people to sign it, but that we couldn’t trust fax technology! Who knows what you could do now that we have social media at our disposal – perhaps we are about to find out?

But some of the best awareness campaigns and efforts will undoubtedly occur locally.  One of my favourites from my time visiting Alzheimer’s Society branches all those years ago was the gentleman, a carer, who had plastered his car with Society logos and slogans as well as painting his car a ‘house’ yellow.

I seem to be involved in a variety of stuff around the dementia challenge at the moment and very exciting it is too. These projects include a national register for people with dementia and their carers to put forward their names to take part in clinical trials.  Hopefully I’ll be able to update people via the blog in due course.

Finally, a quick update on a previous blog I did about a PLoS one paper which highlighted the fact that people are not given good quality information about placebos when signing up to a trial.  Well, I’ve been contacted by the researchers today to say there is now going to be a follow-up piece of work to develop and pilot better patient information.  You can see their comment at the end of the original blog here.  Excellent.

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