Where Passion Meets Reality!
Good Afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s.
I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.
Today’s topic is The Facts about Alzheimer’s.
Most of us have heard of Alzheimer’s disease and many either have a loved one suffering from it or know someone who is. But how much do you really know about this devastating disease?
Fact: Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. By mid-century, someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
Fact: It’s estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s will be diagnosed this year alone.
Fact: Almost two-thirds of those Americans are women.
Fact: More than 5 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s. By 2050, nearly 14 million (13.8 million to be exact) over age 65 could be living with the disease unless scientists develop new approaches to prevent or cure it.
Fact: Worldwide, 46.8 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer’s. By 2030, if breakthroughs aren’t discovered, we’ll see an increase to nearly 74.7 million and by 2050 rates could exceed 131.5 million.
Fact: Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that CAN’T be prevented, cured or slowed.
Fact: Despite widespread recognition of the benefits of clear and accurate disclosure, less than half (45%) of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or their caregivers report being told the diagnosis. This is compared to 90% of those diagnosed with cancer and cardiovascular disease. Health care providers routinely encounter the situation of having to deliver a frightening or upsetting diagnosis to patients and perhaps relatives, friends and loved ones. Yet there’s a broad agreement among physician organizations that patients have the right to know and understand their diagnosis. Benefits of disclosing a diagnosis include better diagnosis, the opportunity for a second opinion, better decision-making about their lives for the present and the future and better medical care.
Fact: Alzheimer’s is projected to cripple America’s health care system. Total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice for individual’s with Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost this nation $226 billion. By 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion.
Fact: The U.S. government isn’t spending enough to respond to this growing epidemic. The National Institutes of Health funding for HIV/AIDS research is 23 times the level of that for Alzheimer’s disease research and cancer research is 12 times the level spent for AD research. Yet there are five times as many Americans with Alzheimer’s than with HIV and more people die each year in the U.S. from Alzheimer’s than from the two most commonly diagnosed types of cancer (breast and prostate) combined.
Fact: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the course Alzheimer’s takes depends on age at the time of diagnosis and the presence of other conditions that compromise a person’s health. Changes may begin 20 years or more before diagnosis. Mild to moderate AD generally lasts from 2 to 10 years and severe Alzheimer’s may last from one to five.
Fact: People who have Alzheimer’s need others to care for them and many of those providing care aren’t being paid for their time and services. More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for someone with AD or dementia. These unpaid caregivers are usually immediate family members or other relatives and friends. In 2014, these people provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution valued at more than $217.7 billion. That is approximately 46% of the net value of Walmart sales in 2013 and nearly eight times the total revenue of McDonald’s.
Fact: Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women and 34 percent are age 65 or older. Forty-one percent have a household income of $50,000 or less and over half of primary caregivers take care of parents. It’s also estimated that 250,000 children and young adults between the ages of 8 and 18 provide help to someone with
Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
Fact: Unpaid caregivers need help. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia is often extremely difficult and many family and other unpaid caregivers experience high levels of emotional stress and depression as a result. Caring for someone with AD also has been found to have a negative impact on the health, employment, income and financial security of many caregivers.
Fact: Many people add shame to the burden of worry, sadness, anger and dread over a family member diagnosed with a serious illness as they struggle with ambivalence toward the caregiving task that looms ahead. But it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of adding caregiving to an already full plate. Ambivalence toward caregiving should be considered a normal, expectable reaction that doesn’t invalidate your love or devotion to your ill family member. It’s neither necessary nor helpful to feel ashamed.
Alzheimer’s is an uncomfortable topic that has been kept quiet in mainstream culture. But with the aging baby boomer population reaching 65+ in record numbers, more information is being made available, more conversations are being started and more research is being done to help find a cure for this debilitating disease.
Meryl Comer, a seasoned broadcast journalist, had this to say about Alzheimer’s. “It is devastation glossed over. One out of three Americans are impacted in some way… Alzheimer’s is not about a little old lady who forgets her address. In reality, it’s the cruelest of diseases. We need to wage a war on Alzheimer’s just as we did with cancer… Baby boomers need to say the disease is unacceptable for our future and help reduce the stigma of Alzheimer’s.”
That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope you found this information helpful.
Join me at 1 pm Saturday for more about when you should see a doctor and how Alzheimer’s is diagnosed