September Is World Alzheimer Month

Last month’s death of beloved comedy icon Gene Wilder—known to generations for his endearingly zany portrayal of the title character in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—from complications of Alzheimer disease (AD) once again has put a public face on this insidious condition. 

Wilder’s death, like the earlier deaths of other celebrities with dementia-associated conditions (including Charlton Heston, Robin Williams, and perhaps most notably, Ronald Reagan) has furthered a discussion about the real stigma associated with the diagnosis of AD and other forms of dementia.

To address this, Alzheimer’s Disease International has designated September as the 5th annual World Alzheimer’s Month, an international effort to raise awareness and challenge stigma.

“The impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is growing, but the stigmatisation and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem,” the London-based organization notes on the campaign’s website,

The group offers statistics that speak to the global impact of AD and other dementias, predicting that 131.5 million people worldwide will be living with dementia by 2050, that another person in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds, and that 2 of 3 people on earth believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their country.

Consultant is here to help you and your colleagues in primary care. In addition to routinely covering the diagnosis and management of dementia here in print, offers the latest clinical information and news about therapeutic advances in dementia care. Visit Alzheimer Disease 360 on the “Specialty” menu at often for regular updates.

Wilder and his family kept the Alzheimer diagnosis secret until after the actor had died. As has been widely reported, family spokesman Jordan Walker-Pearlman said, “The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him, ‘There’s Willy Wonka’ would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment, or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”

I hope the public disclosure of Wilder’s diagnosis, coupled with the efforts of Alzheimer’s Disease International and other advocacy groups and the dedicated clinical coverage from Consultant and other sources, together can help drive research, heighten awareness, and lead to early detection and treatment of AD and other dementia-related conditions. To borrow a familiar song lyric: Don’t care how, I want it now.

Thanks for reading.


Michael Gerchufsky, ELS, CMPP
Managing Editor, Consultant