Get the Facts: Alzheimer’s and Your Senior Loved One

Alzheimer’s Dementia is the difficulty remembering names and recent events.

It involves depression and apathy in the early stages, leading up to confusion, disorientation, behavioral changes, impaired judgment and difficulty with walking, speaking and swallowing.  A visit to the doctor can determine whether these are signs of Alzheimer’s in your loved one or possible something else.

Alzheimer’s is often perceived to be strictly a disease of aging and the elderly but is also one that can affect young people too.

Alzheimer’s Key Points

  • Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.4 million Americans
  • Nearly half of those aged 85 or older have Alzheimer’s
  • 1 in 8 older Americans (13%) have Alzheimer’s disease
  • More women than men have Alzheimer’s disease; 3.4 million of the total 5.4 million
  • Every 69 seconds someone in America is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US in people over 65 years
  • Nearly 15 million people provide unpaid caregiving for people with Alzheimer’s, usually family members, and 60% of these people are women; half are employed full or part time as well as being caregivers
  • The projected cost of care for Alzheimer’s is $1.1 TRILLION by 2050; and is currently $183 billion in 2011
  • As many as 50% of people who meet diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s have not been diagnosed yet

Alzheimer’s cause is largely unknown; diagnosis is made with no cure at this time and the disease will be ultimately fatal, often from pneumonia.

The current treatments do little to change the course of the disease and may at best slow the progression of symptoms.

Memory loss disrupts the person’s and family’s daily life.

Risk Factors

The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is aging — although it is not a normal part of aging.

Family history is another risk factor especially in those with a first degree relative (parent, brother, sister) with Alzheimer’s.

Brain health is closely related to the development of this disease with heart health a major component.  Traumatic brain injury also can increase your risk.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Seniors Odds of Beating or Delaying Alzheimer’s?

There are 7 lifestyle factors that experts feel can be improved to reduce your senior’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

  1. Smoking
  2. Physical activity
  3. Obesity
  4. Diabetes
  5. High blood pressure
  6. Depression
  7. Poor education (lack of access to healthcare and lower “cognitive reserve” due to less education)

If you help your senior loved one make changes in his or her lifestyle to improve these conditions, they may benefit not only their overall health but also their brain health.   Keep your senior’s mind sharp and active; help them to stay engaged in the community.

Fundraising Efforts Can Save Lives

Why is it so important to raise funds?  Research is needed to help doctors diagnose the condition as early as possible, money is needed to find options for treatment that will help people lead better lives and to find a cure once and for all.  With the size of the older population groups growing, all we can do and more is needed to fight this disease.

Find ways to support Alzheimer’s in a way that fits for you either by donating directly to the Alzheimer’s Association (also a great source for more information), assisting with a fundraising event in your community or supporting it, or joining the Walk for a Cure.  Together we can make a difference!

We’d love to hear your stories or challenges you and your loved ones have encountered.  Your stories can help and encouraging others!


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