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Monday, September 19, 2016

World Alzheimer’s Day

This Wednesday, Sept. 21 is the day that is recognized across the globe as World Alzheimer’s Day. Alzheimer’s organizations around the world use the day to concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. As we know, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

This is a group of diseases that strikes often and with devastating results. Someone develops Alzheimer’s disease every 68 seconds. If Alzheimer’s continues unchecked at the current rates, the number of Americans living with the disease will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.

For those of us dealing with it, we understand that Alzheimer’s is a family disease, because of the toll it takes on other family members. In many cases, the stress of dealing with a family member with Alzheimer’s is harder for the caregiver than it is for the Alzheimer’s patient.

The statistics associated with this disease are staggering. 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Research on slowing and preventing Alzheimer’s is taking place on a national scale. There was some encouraging news just a few weeks ago.

An experimental drug called aducanumab dramatically reduced the toxic plaques found in the brains of people living with Alzheimer's disease, according to results of an early clinical trial. But much more research on a far larger scale is still necessary to determine if aducanumab can really slow the loss of memory and thinking and impact the disease.

While this may be positive news, it competes with the staggering notion that increases in life spans and baby boomers coming of age, will make the statistics about the number of people dealing with Alzheimer’s and other dementias continue to grow disproportionality.

That’s why we set aside Sept. 21 to recognize what this disease does to families around the world and the things we all have to do to support continued research.


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