Uncovering the Truth About Alzheimer’s Disease

Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, and over 15 million are acting as their caregivers. By 2050, the number of people living with the disease may rise as high as 16 million.

Each of these statistics is so much more than a number – each represents a person and a family who are facing the devastating consequences of Alzheimer’s. Despite the overwhelming burden this disease places on our nation and the deep concern of so many Americans, too many still don’t know or accept the realities of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

To defeat this disease we must work together – and knowledge is the first step. During June, Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association is asking you to help our country better understand the realities of dementia and share these facts with others.

The realities are:

  • Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease that kills more Americans each year than breast and prostate cancer combined. It attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue, and affects an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. Ultimately, people with the disease lose the ability to communicate and control movement, and require round-the-clock personal care. There are no survivors.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is more than memory loss. It presents itself through a variety of signs and symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions – or can go undetected entirely.
  • Early detection matters. More than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, but only about half have been diagnosed. Additionally, less than half (45 percent) of seniors diagnosed with the disease or their caregivers are aware of the diagnosis.
  • Caregiving can become anyone’s reality. As our population grows older, and more people reach an age of greater risk, an increasing number of friends and family of all ages will provide care to someone with Alzheimer’s. According to the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, it’s estimated that 250,000 children and young adults between ages 8 and 18 provide help to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.
  • Women, African-Americans and Hispanics are at a greater risk for developing the disease. While everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s, African-Americans are about twice as likely as whites to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and Hispanics are about 1 ½ times as likely. Additionally, more than two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are women.

These facts are a reality for millions of Americans — and that must change. As a nation, we’re rallying around this cause. We’ve got a national plan that targets effective treatment and prevention in less than 10 years and we believe we can ultimately do even better. To make that happen, the Alzheimer’s Association has led the way to milestones in federal funding, innovative research, care and support, but there is still much to do. And you can help.

I’ve seen firsthand the power that our dedicated advocates, constituents and volunteers can have in changing the course of this disease. During Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, visit alz.org/abam to learn how you join us:

  • Learn about the disease and take action
  • Go purple to raise awareness
  • Spread the word on social media

No one should face this disease alone. Together, we can show the millions of Americans facing Alzheimer’s that we are here to help. And by doing so, we can each – and collectively – make a very real difference.

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