May 25, 2010

CANADA: Highlighting the devastating impact of Alzheimer's disease

OTTAWA, Ontario / Alzheimer's Society / May 25, 2010

Alzheimer Society Launches Forget Everything You Knew Campaign

The Alzheimer Society of Canada is launching a new campaign in an effort to raise awareness about the soul wrenching realities of Alzheimer's disease, and the Society's efforts to fund research towards a cure.
Over 500,000 Canadians live with dementia today. More than 60% have Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease robs us of everything we take for granted: our memory, our judgment and reasoning, our ability to perform familiar tasks. It changes our mood and behaviour and, eventually causes death.

On average, a person will live 7 to 10 years after diagnosis with a growing dependence on others and ultimately a need for 24-hour care.

The emotional, physical and financial strain is significant, with 40 to 75% of caregivers developing psychological illnesses.

No treatments exist to stop or reverse this fatal disease. There is no cure. Research remains the key to treating the disease and finding a cure.
Created by the Leo Burnett agency on a pro-bono basis, the 'Forget Everything You Knew' campaign is meant to correct common misconceptions about Alzheimer's disease and to urge greater investment in research.

The campaign points to three key facts about the disease: it isn't only a disease of the elderly, in fact it can start in your 40's; it isn't about forgetfulness but rather a disease of the brain that takes away the ability to process information, making it impossible to perform the simplest day-to-day tasks; and it is fatal, normally within five to 10 years of diagnosis.

Alzheimer disease hits great part of our society

"Understanding the disease is the first step towards fighting it. Validating the sentiment of loss, and mourning of life as we have known it, is the second step," says Kelly Duffin, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. "Individuals living with dementia and their families tell us that there is much that continues to make life worth living - despite a diagnosis of dementia. However, they also tell us about the intense grief that they feel - long before death occurs - for life as they knew it, and for a shared future that they hoped and planned for."

While the amount of money spent on dementia research has increased over the past few years, when one considers the rapidly increasing prevalence of the disease and its devastating economic impact, much more will need to be invested if we are to accelerate the pace of progress.

"This campaign will shine light on the need for research to ultimately end this disease, so that people living with it today will have confidence that their children and grandchildren will not have to endure its devastation," says Dr. Jack Diamond, Scientific Director of the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

The Public Service Announcement campaign will appear in three different media types, including TV (in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Punjabi and Urdu), print (in English and French) and two radio spots in English. To view the campaign, go to

"I know a poll from 2006 found that Alzheimer's disease is the second most feared disease among Canadians as they age. Based on my family's experience, we would rank it even higher," says Kathy Stevens, a retired marketing executive who assisted with the campaign as one of the lead donors. "Growing funds for research is critical if we are to end the grief and loss."

The Alzheimer Society is the leading, nationwide health organization for people affected by dementia in Canada. The Society is a principal funder of Alzheimer research and training, provides enhanced care and support to people with the disease, their families and their caregivers, and is a prominent voice within all levels of government. Active in more than 140 communities across Canada, the Society is also a key player in Alzheimer's Disease International, an organization at the forefront of world wide efforts to fight dementia of which it is a founding member. [rc]

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