It’s always interesting to see that many people believe that dementia and Alzheimer’s are normal parts of aging. They are not. Risk factors for dementia include age, gender and genetics, but there are others such as depression, sleep disorders and lifestyle choices that can reduce the chance of developing the disease or at least slow the progression of symptoms. While a diagnosis of dementia is crushing, it allows families to plan accordingly.
Quick Facts on Alzheimer’s Disease
Here are some of the facts that you should know about Alzheimer’s according to ALZ.org.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.
- Over 30 million people live with Alzheimer’s worldwide today.
- Every 67 seconds, another person develops the disease.
- By 2030, 60 million people are expected to have the disease.
- Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be slowed, prevented or cured.
- The disease was first discovered over 100 years ago.
- Though we’ve learned a lot about the disease, researchers still don’t know much about what causes it, why it progresses faster in some than others and how it can be slowed, prevented or cured.
- Almost two thirds of Americans with the disease are women.
- One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in America.
Is Dementia an Epidemic?
It’s clear that we have an epidemic on our hands. The number of people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increases by the minute, and it’s expected that health care costs could rise to $1.1 trillion by 2050. The disease also takes its toll on caregivers. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate their emotional stress as being high or very high. Forty percent suffer from depression.
While there’s no way to prevent or cure the disease as we know it today, research is ongoing. For instance, researchers at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research have found a protein that fuels Alzheimer’s disease. These findings may open the door for innovative treatments and help us understand how to fight the disease.
Remember this: Even though a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia can be shattering, view an early diagnosis as an advantage. You can plan accordingly, have realistic expectations for yourself or loved one and perhaps slow the progression of the disease with medication and lifestyle changes.