Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is observed in June as an opportunity to spread the word about and discuss Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Throughout the month, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages people around the globe to support the movement by wearing purple and training their brains to fight the disease.
History of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month
The occurrence of dementia goes way back to before it was named. Ancient Egyptians, in 2000 B.C., were aware of the fact that memory declines as people grow old.
In the second century A.D., Turkish doctor Aretheus described dementia by putting it in the same group as delirium. Delirium is the reversible (acute) disorder of cognitive function while dementia is an irreversible chronic disorder.
The fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century led to the domination of theocracy during the Middle Ages. Dementia was thus regarded as a punishment from God for sins committed and the patients were considered to be possessed by demons and subject to hatred. During the 14th and 15th centuries, such patients were also victims of witch hunts.
Saint Isidore, archbishop of Seville, first used the word ‘dementia’ in his book “Etymologies” in around 600 A.D. The word is of Latin origin: ‘de’ meaning loss or deprivation, ‘ment’ meaning mind, and ‘ia’ indicating a state. So, ‘dementia’ means ‘loss of the state of the mind.’
In 1906, German physician Alois Alzheimer described the case of Auguste Deter, a 50-year-old woman with profound memory loss. This was the first recorded case of Alzheimer’s disease, although it was not called so then.
President Ronald Regan initiated the observance of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in 1983 to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and get people involved in the recognition of the diseases as well as the types of care required by someone suffering from it.
Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month timeline
Alzheimer's disease is named after Alois Alzheimer but by his senior colleague, psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin who used the term ‘Alzheimer's disease’ in his book “Psychiatrie.”
The electron microscope is invented by Germans Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska, which can magnify up to one million times, allowing researchers to study the brain in more detail.
The Alzheimer's Association, the leading organization in Alzheimer’s care and research, is established with Mr. Jerome H. Stone as the founding president.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves tacrine (Cognex) as the first drug targeted specifically towards Alzheimer's symptoms.
Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month FAQs
Is June Alzheimer's Awareness Month?
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.
What is Alzheimer's Awareness Month?
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Awareness about Alzheimer’s disease is heightened during this time, and support is given to more than 6 million Americans suffering from it.
Is there an Alzheimer's Awareness Day?
World Alzheimer’s Day is on 21 September each year.
How to Observe Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month
Donate time or money to an Alzheimer’s organization
You can either donate money online by looking up the Alzheimer’s Association website or you can donate your time by volunteering at charitable organizations that need dedicated volunteers, and encourage others to participate as well.
Take part in seminars
Communities around the world hold public events and seminars to spread awareness about Alzheimer’s. Take part in them and find out more about the diseases and how you can contribute to the fight.
Wear purple and join the social media campaign
Purple represents the fight against Alzheimer’s. Share an image of you wearing purple and show your solidarity in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Use the hashtag #EndAlz and #AlzheimersAndBrainAwarenessMonth.
5 Facts About Alzheimer’s That You Didn’t Know
Around the world
An estimated 47 million people around the world are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and if a change doesn’t come by 2030, this number will grow to 76 million.
Each second counts
A person develops Alzheimer’s disease in the United States every 65 seconds.
In America, more than 16 million people take care of family or friends with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and that, too, without pay.
A leading disease
In the U.S., Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death and 6.2 million of those living with Alzheimer’s disease are over 65.
One out of three deaths
Alzheimer’s or other dementia kills one in three seniors and deaths due to this disease are more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.
Why Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is Important
It spreads the word
This month helps spread awareness about Alzheimer's and other dementia along with the different kinds of care that people with the disease require. It motivates people to know more about the disease.
It’s for the elders
People with Alzheimer’s or other dementia often withdraw from society and even family. This month promotes talking to them and reminding them that they are special.
It propels research
Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is a way to propel research and find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. When more people come together, things are achieved faster.
Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month dates