SEPTEMBER has been designated World Alzheimer’s Month to raise, internationally, an awareness of the disease, which affects 44 million people worldwide. The campaign, with the theme "Remember Me" is also geared to challenge the stigma of Alzheimer’s. In South Africa it is estimated that 2.2 million people are affected. Alzheimer's is a brain disease which causes a slow decline in memory and reasoning skills - there are 10 accepted early warning signs and symptoms, which can be experienced by an individual in different degrees: • Memory loss which disrupts daily life particularly with reference to recently learnt information. • Challenges in planning or solving problems - a change in the individual's ability to develop a plan or work with numbers. • Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. • Confusion with time or place - individuals with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. Sometimes they may forget where they are and how they got there. • Trouble understanding visual imahges and spatial relationships - may have difficulty reading, judging distance, which could cause problems with driving. • New problems with words in speaking or writing - may have trouble following or joining a conversation - struggle with vocabulary or call things by the wrong name. • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. • Decreased or poor judgment - paying less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. • Withdrawal from work or social activities - removing themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. • Changes in mood and personality - they can become confused, suspicious, depressed,and be easily upset at work and home. If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or someone else, do not ignore them - schedule a doctor's appointment or contact the Alzheimer's South Africa helpline on 086 010 2681.