Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. It is the most common form of dementia and is not a normal part of aging.
Here are some statistics about Alzheimer’s:
· The sixth leading cause of death in the United States
· The fifth leading cause of death for people aged 65 and older
· One in nine people aged 65 and older has it
· More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia
· The estimated number of 2016 cases is estimated to go up to 5.6 million people
· The only disease among the top 10 causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed down
· Takes a devastating toll on caregivers due to emotional stress, depression and wage loss
· Predicted to cost our country over $236 billion this year for health care, long-term care and hospice
This data is pretty sobering. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is growing fast. Although most people are aged 65 and older, there are still 200,000 people who are under 65 and have it. As the baby boomers age, the numbers will escalate at a faster rate.
It can be easily seen that Alzheimer’s disease is costing us a lot. Not only in dollar value, but the cost of losing our loved ones. It’s hard to see someone you love deteriorate before your eyes and not remember simple things. When a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s doesn’t recognize people she’s known for years or asks three times in a thirty minute visit if her husband or parents are living or dead, the price is also large for the family and friends.
What are the signs?
· Memory loss that disrupts daily life (forgetting dates/events, asking for the same information over and over, forgetting recently learned information)
· Challenges in planning or solving problems (following a recipe, paying bills)
· Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure (problems driving to a familiar location, remembering the rules of a favorite game)
· Confusion with time or place (losing track of dates, seasons, forgetting where they are)
· Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships (difficulty reading, judging distance, determining color)
· New problems with words in speaking or writing (trouble following or joining a conversation)
· Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps (putting things in unusual places, accusing others of stealing)
· Decreased or poor judgment (problems with handling money, less attention to grooming)
· Withdrawal from work or social activities (problems remembering how to complete a favorite hobby)
· Changes in mood and personality (suspicious, depressed, fearful, anxious, easily upset)
What can you do to support Alzheimer’s Awareness Month?
· Stay informed by reading up on the diagnosis. If some of the above signs are noticed in friends, relatives or even yourself, get to a health care professional. Early detection can help get the maximum benefit from available treatments that can provide some relief of symptoms.
· Make a tax deductible donation to support research, programs and services
· Become an advocate by helping to persuade Congress to address this growing need in our country
· Learn the facts and help change the numbers
The brain is worth saving.