Alzheimer’s disease is not a pretty picture. It can be compared to a storm that rips through your life and leaves you feeling lost and all alone. It’s a type of dementia that turns lives up side down. As of 2015, it is the number 3 cause of death in San Diego County and the 6th leading cause of death nationally. It is the only disease in the top 10 that has No Prevention, No Cure, and No Survivors.
All dementias are a disease of the brain. Dementia is a syndrome not a disease unto its self. Think of dementia as fruit of which there are many kinds. Alzheimer’s is the number 1 type of dementia representing over half of all cases of dementia.
As of 2015, over 5.3 million people living in the U.S.A. have Alzheimer’s disease and every 67 seconds someone new develops the disease. Roughly 44 million people worldwide have dementia. If half are Alzheimer’s – well you can do the math. As you can expect, the baby boomer phenomenon will only make the numbers much, much worse.
A Natural Part of Aging?
Most reports say that Alzheimer’s disease is not a natural part of aging. However, according to reports, 1 in 9 people over 65 have Alzheimer’s and 1 in 3 people over 85 die from Alzheimer’s. Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Association states, “The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is advancing age. Most individuals with the disease are age 65 or older. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles about every five years after age 65. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent.”
Sure seems obvious to me that Alzheimer’s is a natural part of aging. In many ways, we are fighting Father Time. If you loved one is showing symptoms of memory impairment, understand this is not a fight that we are going to win in time to save them. Not with the minuscule amounts of money that we spend on uncoordinated research; 1/10 the amount that is spent on cancer research, for instance.
There is no 100% Definitive Way to Diagnose Alzheimer’s
Well at least not while someone is living. The only way to be 100% sure is at autopsy. Today’s specialists, however, are more capable of making a proper diagnosis during a patient’s life.
So why haven’t you heard of it before?
You have. We were taught to call it Senility – “Oh, he’s just old and senile.” Senile makes it sound kinda cute but don’t be fooled any longer; this word has misled generations to grossly under estimate the severity of Alzheimer’s.
This may in fact be the worst disease out there
It’s a disease that strips people of their independence. It takes their spirit. It makes others think they are crazy. It embarrasses family. It causes the caregivers to grieve twice: first, when the person becomes a shell of their former self and again when they pass away.
So what is Alzheimer’s?
It’s a disease that over a course of years causes a person to unlearn; almost like regressing to the point of becoming a baby. The difference is that with a baby, you know they’ll grow out of it but with Alzheimer’s you remember the person for who they were and that just kills you inside. It’s a disease that will send the caregiver through every emotion imaginable and sometimes causes the caregiver to die first. It’s not a pretty picture.
You Are Not Alone
I realize how shocking this sounds but you must push forward and know that you are not alone – we are Together in This. While we haven’t won the war against Alzheimer’s, we are starting to win some battles. So stay strong and keep your head up. If you believe your loved one is starting to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease then please read our next article:
Does Your Loved One Have Alzheimer’s Disease?
I also highly recommend that you watch this 3 minute video on YouTube from AboutAlz.org:
YouTube, What is Alzheimer’s Disease
If you would like a little more scientific description of the disease, jump over to the National Institute on Aging’s explanation:
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
As always, please remember to check out our Publications and Tools section for additional resources.
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Questions? Stories? In the comments below, please share what Alzheimer’s is to you.