Oct 30, 2011

The Alzheimer's Bullet

Soon their will be two kinds of people. A person that has Alzheimer's; or, a person that knows someone that has Alzheimer's.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The Alzheimer's Bullet
I like to stick
my head in the sand
A 65 year old baby boomer has a one in eight chance of suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Look around. How many people do you know that are 65 or older?

The odds of suffering from Alzheimer's disease increases each year until age 85 when it rises to about 42 percent. Imagine, almost one out of every two baby boomer's age 85 or older can expect to suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

When Alzheimer's disease strikes the entire family suffers. Alzheimer's disease is hard to understand, hard to comprehend. As a result, it is not unusual for family member to deny its existence. This leads to additional heartache and sometimes leads to the disintegration of family units. A large fraction of Alzheimer's caregivers say they are not being helped by family members, and they often feel abandoned.

Alzheimer's is a sinister disease.

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Many of the children of Baby Boomers can expect to suffer right along with the person suffering from Alzheimer's. Families might start considering what they are going to do if Alzheimer's strikes. Or, they can stick their head in the sand.

The oldest of the baby boomer's is 65 right now. Ten thousand Baby Boomers are turning 65 each day. The Alzheimer's tsunami starts in 2015. Some call it the tipping point.

Studies show that 150 million Americans have been touched by Alzheimer's. This means someone in their family has Alzheimer's; or that, they know someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

More than 50 million Americans are worried about Alzheimer's.

Soon their will be two kinds of people. A person that has Alzheimer's; or, a person that knows someone that has Alzheimer's.

Right now, there is no cure for Alzheimer's. No way to stop the progression of the disease. The world's top Alzheimer's research scientists believe that an effective treatment could be available by 2020. The current goal is to find ways to identify the conditions that predispose a person to Alzheimer's disease; then, to develop drugs or gene therapies that will slow, or stop the disease from progressing.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. During this month there is a concerted effort to raise awareness about Alzheimer's, and to encourage older people to take a free memory screening test. Right now, few people 65 or older do this. They just don't want to know. They prefer to wait until the disease presents as full blown. Only then will they start seeking treatment.

This is mistake. A critical mistake that often tears families apart.

Early detection is critical. In some cases the existing drugs, primarily the combination of Aricept and Namenda, allow the person to live their life the way they had for many years.

My mother, now 95 years old, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. There is a one in three chance (33%) that an 80 year old will suffer from dementia. If I knew fifteen years ago what I know today, I would have gotten my mother tested, and I would have learned more about Alzheimer's disease. I would have gotten prepared in advance.

I know what it is like to be touched by Alzheimer's. As this month unfolds I will reach the 8 year mark. My eighth year as an Alzheimer's caregiver. My advice, get tested, get ready, don't stick your head in the sand.

Most people believe that Alzheimer's caregiving is a horrific experience. It does not have to be that way. Alzheimer's caregiving can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience. In order for this to happen you must learn about the disease before it strikes, and learn what to do when it strikes.

My advice to my fellow Baby Boomers and their children is to take action now. If you are 65 or older, start getting your memory tested. If you are a child of a baby boomer start learning about Alzheimer's disease.

You can stick your head in the sand and suffer the devastating consequences. Or, you can get out in front of the disease and make a plan that allows for the person suffering from Alzheimer's to live their life to the fullest degree possible.

Don't take my word for it. Ask any Alzheimer's caregiver and the majority will tell you they wish they had gotten the diagnosis sooner, and they wish they knew what to do in advance.

Know a baby boomer? You might want to share this information with their children. You can participate in Alzheimer's Awareness Month this way.

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,101 articles with more than 452,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room