By Cyd Riede
This is the first of a series of articles on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Statistics and Overview
Most of us are related to or know someone who has Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s disease is not just memory loss – Alzheimer’s kills. My mother, a tax accountant, passed away of Alzheimer’s disease, six years after being diagnosed.
More Americans are dying either from or with Alzheimer’s disease because a growing number of Americans are developing Alzheimer’s. Today, over five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease (over 120,000 in Tennessee); including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65. By 2050, up to 16 million Americans will have the disease. Of Americans age 65 and over, 1 in 9 has Alzheimer’s; and 1 in 3 people 85 and older have the disease. Another American develops Alzheimer’s disease every 68 seconds.
In 2010, 83,494 American died of Alzheimer’s disease (2,440 in Tennessee). Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010, while most other causes of death have decreased between 2 – 23 percent. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the second largest contributor to death among older Americans.
Developing Alzheimer’s Disease
Many experts believe that Alzheimer’s, like other common chronic diseases, develops as a result of multiple factors rather than a single cause. In Alzheimer’s, these multiple factors are a variety of brain changes that may begin 20 or more years before symptoms appear.
Many factors contribute to one’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is advancing age, but Alzheimer’s is not a typical part of aging. Most people with Alzheimer’s disease are diagnosed at age 65 or older. However, people younger than 65 can also develop the disease and these numbers are increasing.
Advancing age is not the only risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Those who have a parent, brother or sister with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease than those who do not have a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s. Those who have more than one first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s are at even higher risk of developing the disease. When diseases run in families, heredity (genetics), shared environmental and lifestyle factors, or both, may play a role.
Raising Awareness and Supporting Alzheimer’s in Cumberland County
On Saturday, Sept. 7 Alzheimer’s of Tennessee will hold the second Annual Plateau Alzheimer’s Walk. You can participate as an individual or a team/group. Note that all funds raised for this event directly support Alzheimer’s here in Cumberland County. For more information view www.alztnevents.org or call Cyd Riede at 456-2122.
Look for additional articles on Alzheimer’s to include: “Definition and Diagnosis of Dimentia,” “Support Organizations, Education and Caregiving” and “Treatment, Now and Future.”