I have been thinking about this topic ever since Julie first posted it and think a public campaign for risk modification is a great idea. Here are some thoughts in no particular order.
1. Who is the target audience
? For example, if we want to reach younger people in teens and 20's, this will be different than those who are raising families in their 30's and 40's. Since I spent 38 years teaching those in the 16-18 age range and my own kids are 26 and 31, here are some bullet points on that age group.
• There needs to be a sense of urgency and immediacy
as in "Here’s what you can do NOW as in right now." We have seen this change with those in their teens and 20's in anti-bullying campaigns and in reduction in smoking until recently with the advent of vaping.
• There needs to be development of an app
specific to reduction in Alzheimer's risk that tracks e.g. sleep, exercise, and diet. It should not do too many things, but focus on a few big ones. While there are apps and devices that already do this, they are left as good practice, and not targeted specifically to Alzheimer’s. Those apps need to be specific on how much exercise per day or week, how much sleep at night, -all according to the latest research and kept updated.
• AD needs to be targeted in health classes
, just like sexuality or mental health. The majority of people across demographics do not know that Alzheimer’s starts years earlier. Those of us on this site can call a school near us to give a presentation, perhaps opening with student reactions to Warren Buffet’s statement about owning only one car in a lifetime and how that would change a person’s care of that car. Many of the students I taught had a grandparent with Alzheimer’s and felt very down because they loved that grandparent or sad for their parent who was having to take on this economic and emotional burden. While ageism is also strong, there has been so much growth in acceptance of “difference” in this demographic that is in our favor.
2. Social media has to become a better tool for Alzheimer’s advocacy
. The CDC has now learned this after several mishaps, and did much better with educating on the Zika virus. See this link https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/when- ... l-we-trust
3. There needs to be a compelling visual
, i.e. one that gets updated and targeted to different age groups. This visual must dispel the perception that Alzheimer’s is a natural part of aging. It needs to dispel the idea that there is a single pill that will solve everything and is just on the horizon. I thought that too when my mother got Alzheimer’s 25 years ago and……We need to emphasize that the environment alters how our genes behave and that needs to be in the visual.
4. Education needs to be done with different cultural and socioeconomic groups in mind
and with the latest social science research on what works to change people’s habits
. We are diverse in terms of cultural norms, race, gender, and economic status. Panels that address Alzheimer’s prevention, whether the target is medical practitioners or educators, need to have diversity on these committees. Also, too little of the social science research on how people change habits, or perceive ‘threats’ is being applied in any kind of education or policy.
5. The solutions have to be multi-pronged
. The mainstream medical community is a great start as is targeting through existing educational channels in schools. As Fiver said, “But I'm really not willing to wait around.” We have to come out individually and as a group. It is imperative that we APOE4 folks, whether possessing one or two alleles, or working with a friend or family member with AD, need to become politically and socially active as SO many on this site already are. Fiver said, “I wonder if the obstacle to a national campaign against AD…is because those diagnosed generally withdraw from the public eye?” We can't withdraw. We have to get out there, educate our doctors, our students, our friends, and to use a metaphor, "come out of the closet."
Sorry this is so long!