September 23, 2008

Ending Alzheimer’s One Step at a Time

By Kathy Tuckey

The number of people affected by Alzheimer's is growing at an alarming rate, and the increasing financial and personal costs will have a devastating effect on the world's economies, health-care systems and families. We must make the fight against Alzheimer's a global priority. It's up to every one of us to learn more about the disease and join the fight.

There are 26 million people in the world living with Alzheimer's, and that number will quadruple by 2050. This means by mid-century more than 100 million people will be living with this degenerative disease that kills brain cells and eventually the person.

Did you know Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States - and 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer's? There are some 5.2 million Americans living with Alzheimer's today, and that number is expected to increase to as many as 16 million by 2050.

One out of eight people age 65 and older have Alzheimer's disease, and nearly one out of every two over age 85 has it. Every 71 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease; by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer's every 33 seconds. \

Alzheimer's is not a disease that affects only "old" people. People with young onset are being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in their 40s and 50s, and some as young as their 30s. Odds are you know or are caring for someone with Alzheimer's. There are almost 10 million caregivers in the United States. Initial symptoms include memory loss, but as the disease progresses and kills more of the brain, the brain is unable to tell the body how to move, swallow or breathe. There are no survivors and there is no cure.

The Alzheimer's Association is committed to raising awareness and funds to accelerate the worldwide effort to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, or prevent it from developing.

We are the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's.

Join the fight. Call the Alzheimer's Association Augusta office at 706-731-9060 or go to the Alzheimer's Association website: - sign up to join with us at Memory Walk 2008 on Saturday, Nov. 1 at Lake Olmstead's Greenjacket Stadium. \

For more information on Alzheimer's disease, support groups, education programs, and the services of the local office of the Alzheimer's Association call 706-731-9060 or 800-272-3900 (a 24 hour 7 day a week helpline.)

(The writer is program and services director for the Alzheimer's Association's East Central Georgia Region.)

Originally published by Kathy Tuckey Guest Columnist.

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