The 22nd of July was World Brain Day, an initiative of the The World Federation of Neurology. This year, the theme was linked to the ageing population and the chosen motto was ‘The ageing brain’.
The prevalence of a number of neurological diseases increases with age, including stroke, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of people aged 60 to 80 years suffer from one or more of these diseases. More than 30 percent of persons who are 80 years or older suffer from at least one neurological disease.
Disability due to neurological diseases and other musculoskeletal diseases is high and growing. It is estimated that more than 20% of people over the age of 60 years need support for activities of daily living. (source: WFN).
This initiative was supported in Romania by the The Association of Patients with Neurodegenerative Conditions (APAN). APAN organised an awareness raising event on the importance of brain health and also took the chance to officially launch as the newest patient organisation in Romania. Present at the event were health care professionals, patients and representatives from patient organisations, industry partners, policy-makers, the media, together with other organisations involved in providing training and educational services for patients: “The Association of Patients with Neurodegenerative Conditions is honoured to reply to this wonderful initiative of the World Federation of Neurology and increase the awareness of age and neurological conditions and diseases associated with age.”
“Keep your brain healthy! Stay active! An ageing brain can be a healthy brain!” Dr Mihai Vasile, Secretary General of the Romanian Society of Neurology talked about “A healthy brain and the ageing population” while Dr Mihai Geanta, the President of the Centre for Innovation in Medicine presented the “Human Brain Project”. The Vicepresident of APAN, Andreea Antonovici, Public Affairs Coordinator at the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform presented the MS Nurse PROfessional project (an online training platform for nurses specialising in multiple sclerosis that will be launched in Romania in 2017) and the European Barometer in Multiple Sclerosis.
The first step to prevent brain disorders is to raise awareness on the importance of brain health among the young people. Empowerment is the key and patients need to be at the center of the decision making process. “As a society, it is our responsibility to care for the older generation and to make sure they can access the latest treatments and therapies. The mission of APAN is to improve the quality of life of people with neurodegenerative conditions but also to be the main source of information for the population, we want to empower patients and caregivers.” (Cristina Vladau, APAN Vicepresident).
On the occasion of World Brain Day, participants also stood #UnderTheUmbrella to raise awareness of the impact and prevalence of these disorders. The campaign is an initiative of the European Federation of Neurological Associations to increase public, political and scientific support for all brain and brain-related disorders, resulting in reduced stigma. The campaign asks the patient community, general public, and high profile figures to take and share a picture of themselves under an umbrella using the hashtag #UnderTheUmbrella.