Every year, September 21 is observed as “World Alzheimer’s Day” around the world. Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), this international campaign aims to generate widespread awareness and highlight the issues faced by people affected by Alzheimer related dementia. Regarded as a progressive neurologic disorder, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. The condition is considered the most common cause of dementia – which results in a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that severely impact a person’s ability to function independently. The exact causes behind AD are not fully understood. Typically, it is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time. The brain proteins often fail to function normally, which disrupts that work of the neurons and triggers a series of toxic events that cause the death of brain cells. The damage most often starts in the region of the brain that controls memory, but the process begins years before the appearance of the first symptoms. A gradual deterioration in the ability to remember new pieces of information is one of the important symptoms. However, these signs and symptoms become more severe over time. The condition usually tends to affect people aged 65 years and over, with only 10 percent of cases occurring in people younger than this age group. Neurologists and other specialists providing treatment for AD need to have correct knowledge about the related diagnostic and procedural codes. For accurate clinical documentation for this brain disorder, physicians can rely on the services of medical billing outsourcing companies.

The 2021 one-day campaign aims to reach out to people with dementia in their community to let them know that they are not alone. As per reports from the Alzheimer Disease International (ADI), every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia. It is estimated that nearly 50 million people live with dementia worldwide. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. By 2050, nearly 14 million Americans are expected to have Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that around 200,000 Americans under 65 years have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease can range from mild to severe. The scale ranges from a state of mild impairment, through to moderate impairment, before eventually reaching severe cognitive decline. As mentioned above, memory loss is one of the key symptoms of AD. Patients may have considerable difficulty remembering recent events or conversations and organizing thoughts. As the disease progresses, memory impairments worsen and other symptoms such as confusion with time or place, changes in mood or personality, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home/office, confusion with time or place, misplacing objects, challenges in planning or solving problems and problems with words in speaking or writing may develop. Several factors such as age, gender, health and lifestyle, family history, traumatic brain injury, cardiovascular diseases and other social and cognitive engagement – may increase the risk of developing this progressive brain disorder.

World Alzheimer’s Day calls for global action to reduce the stigmatization and lack of information surrounding dementia. It aims to focus on the diagnosis, shine a light on the warning signs of dementia and encourage people to seek information, advice and support. Most people often think that this disease is a normal part of ageing. There is no single test that specifically confirms the presence of this brain syndrome. A combination of several neurological and cognitive tests and procedures like – magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) help identify the exact symptoms and confirm the presence of brain disorder so that treatment can be initiated early without any further complications.

Medicare offers specific coverage for medical and mental health conditions that may include – ongoing hospital care, doctor visits, physical exam and several other tests. Medical billing and coding services focus on ensuring that the right ICD-10 codes are used for medical billing. ICD-10 diagnosis codes for Alzheimer’s disease include –

  • G30 – Alzheimer’s disease
  • G30.0 – Alzheimer’s disease with early onset
  • G30.1 – Alzheimer’s disease with late onset
  • G30.8 – Other Alzheimer’s disease
  • G30.9 – Alzheimer’s disease unspecified

Under category G30, coders must assign the following additional codes to signify –

  • F05 – Delirium, if applicable
  • F02.81 – Dementia with behavioral disturbance
  • F02.80 – Dementia without behavioral disturbance

Originally, this day was observed as part of World Alzheimer’s Month, where organizations coordinated to create global messages about dementia for the media, key stakeholders and policy makers. However, it was in the year 1994 that a separate day was launched to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Alzheimer Disease International (ADI – the international federation of Alzheimer associations around the world), which empowers other organizations with research and updated knowledge about Alzheimer’s and dementia. ADI is the international federation of Alzheimer associations around the world, in official relations with the World Health Organization – that holds international conferences and a series of practical workshops to educate staff and volunteers about the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia and what people can do about it.

Over the years, the scope of the campaign widened, with several annual events being coordinated by Alzheimer’s disease International (ADI) and World Health Organization (WHO). As part of the 2021 campaign, healthcare organizations across the world hosts a series of educational conventions, walks and donations with an objective to spread awareness and help or be a source of positive support to those people who are struggling with this progressive neurological disorder. Healthcare organizations worldwide can get involved in these activities by contacting the Alzheimer’s association in their specific country. Purple is the official color for this observance. The world would light up in purple on World Alzheimer’s day.

On World Alzheimer’s Day – September 21, the ADI will be launching the World Alzheimer Report 2021 ‘Journey through the diagnosis of dementia’. As part of this, a free webinar will be hosted to launch the report. People worldwide can join the session, hear from global experts on diagnosis and take part in the Q&A session.

Join World Alzheimer’s Day campaign on September 21. Help raise awareness of this condition, and challenge the stigma surrounding AD-related dementia.