Fundación Alzheimer España covers Madrid with lost “memories” to fight Alzheimer´s

21 September: Fundación Alzheimer España covers Madrid with lost “memories” to fight Alzheimer´s Each year on World Alzheimer’s Day (21 September), Fundación Alzheimer España (FAE - the Spanish Alzheimer Foundation) makes a special effort to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, of which 150,000 new cases are diagnosed in Spain each year.

This year, FAE joined forces with McCann Madrid to organise an emotional campaign, which not only raised awareness but also sought to attract volunteer carers to help out at FAE’s daycare centre. FAE and McCann decided to use memory sticks (USB sticks) for their campaign, with the idea in mind of a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease wanting to protect their most important life memories.

They shot videos of people living with disease talking about what they want to remember, and uploaded the video onto many USB keys, which were then literally lost - dropped all around Madrid in banks, train stations, bus stations, coffee-shops, with the hope that they would be found and returned to the address on the stick. Unbeknown to those who found them and decided to return them in person, this was in fact the location of FAE’s offices.

The idea being that those who took the time to return the USB sticks in person, had the “soul of a volunteer” and were asked if they would like to help further. After their initial surprise, participants were receptive and empathetic and some individuals indeed showed their interest in working with the Foundation. At the time of writing, 65% of the memory sticks had been returned in person to the FAE offices and 21% by mail. They continue to flow in.

The visits to the Foundation´s website and Facebook have had increased traffic as a result of this campaign, and the number of people interested in becoming volunteers has also increased dramatically. Given the unusual and innovative nature of the campaign, it also attracted plenty of attention from the Spanish media, and was broadcast on major television networks and radio stations. FAE said “our aim of this action was to open social dialogue and raise awareness of the need to fight this devastating disease for patients and their families, not only on World Alzheimer's Day but, most importantly, throughout the whole year.”

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