An overview of Alzheimer’s disease including new research, statistics and movements towards a cure.
When most think of Alzheimer’s disease the first thing that comes to mind is memory loss and forgetfulness. The reality is that Alzheimer’s disease is much more complex and has serious implications on the lives it intrudes upon. Unfortunately, it is a disease that seems to be becoming more prevalent. In 2010 in the Unites States alone more than 5.3 million people aged 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s and those numbers are expected to increase dramatically by mid-century. Researchers are continually making progress in Alzheimer’s care but they have not yet brought upon a cure, an effective solution to stop the progression, or a means of prevention. Once Alzheimer’s begins to develop in the brain it remains on a steadily declining one-way track.
Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s disease is much more than simply forgetting where you placed your keys and it is not a normal part of the aging process. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that slowly progresses over time. It is most common in people age 65 and over and accounts for 60-80 percent of all dementia cases. Signs and symptoms can begin with simple forgetfulness and result in complete helplessness in severe cases (Crystal, MedicineNet.com; Alzheimer’s Association, 7). Alzheimer’s is a serious medical condition that strips its victim of their mind and memory, cognitive thinking and motor abilities. It is important to educate yourself in Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms, risks and treatment because in your lifetime there is a high possibility that at least one of your close relatives or even yourself will develop Alzheimer’s.
In the United States alone in 2010, 5.3 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Advances in modern medicine and technology are allowing people to live longer lives, which is why Alzheimer’s continues to gain in prevalence. Age plays a significant role in the risk of developing the disease. The older a person is the higher their risk. The aging generation of baby boomers is now a cause for concern because with the mass number of boomers entering the at-risk age there will be a considerably significant boost in the number of Alzheimer’s cases between now and mid-century. It is projected that 18 percent of the 79 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s in their lifetime. (Fackelmann, USAToday.com). In 2010, more than 5.5 million Americans were age 85 or older and as the baby boomers generation ages that number is estimated to quadruple to 19 million in 2050 (Alzheimer’s Association, “Facts and Figures 2010,” 14). The number of people living with Alzheimer’s is projected to rise from 5.3 million in 2010 to between 11 million and 16 million by 2050 (Alzheimer’s Association, “Facts and Figures 2010,” 14). Although age plays a significant role in the number of Alzheimer’s cases it is in no way a natural part of the aging process. It is in fact a disease of the brain.