The month of November marks the beginning of a season of remembrance, not only our veterans but also for those living with Alzheimer’s Disease or providing care for family and friends with A.D.
With one in nine people over the age of 65 who have Alzheimer’s, chances are that someone in your close circle of friends and family is already facing the challenges this disease presents. Dig out something purple from your closet and show your support or better yet volunteer to help care for the caregivers.
National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month was designated in 1983 when less than 2 million Americans lived with Alzheimer’s. Today, nearly 5.4 million live with this disease across the country and by 2050, it is estimated that number may triple.
According to the American Alzheimer’s Association, the toll this disease takes on society is huge. In 2015, 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care was provided to individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Many of these caregivers are women and more than a third are over the age of 65 themselves. Carers often suffer financially and emotionally trying to meet the increasing demands of caring for a loved-one with dementia. And caregivers often find their own health declines as a result of providing care to others while neglecting their own needs.
Research has made great strides in better understanding Alzheimer’s Disease but effective treatment or prevention is not yet close at hand. With earlier diagnosis, the hope is that treatment in the initial stages of the disease could help prevent cognitive decline and impairment associated with A.D. There are a number of promising studies underway to develop reliable early detection testing. Research also continues into prevention and drug therapies. At present, the FDA has approved five drugs to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s but none treat the cause of changes in the brain from the progression of the disease.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and special events in your community visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at www.alz.org .