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Alzheimer’s Disease-How Much Do You Really Know?


Logo of Alzheimer's Society.

Image via Wikipedia

What do think of when you  hear the dreaded words-Alzheimer’s Disease? What kind of visual image comes to mind? Do you think of someone in your family, or perhaps a family friend? I am sure we all know someone who has been affected by this disease. Alzheimer’s Disease does not discriminate and can even affect people under the age of 35.

I have finished reviewing the 2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures and would like to highlight some information for you to consider. Some of these statistics are mind boggling, disturbing, and just shocking. Honestly, even I was quite surprised by some of this information.

Let’s begin with this. In the United States:

5.3 million people have Alzheimer’s

it’s the 7th leading cause of death

annual costs are 172 BILLION DOLLARS

10.9 million unpaid caregivers

Read those again as these are truly sobering statistics!

Did you know that 1 in 8 people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s? Currently, every 70 seconds someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s, and by 2050 it will be every 33 seconds.

Now, let’s look at some information about the caregivers. There are basically paid and unpaid caregivers, sandwich generation caregivers. If you’re not familiar with the term sandwich generation, it’s those people or families who are caring for a parent or parents while still caring for children living at home. Many of these sandwich generation caregivers continue to hold down jobs as well. Can you imagine how difficult and stressful this is?  Caregiving activities may include shopping, medication management, meal preparation, dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, managing finances, and the list continues. Some of these caregivers are responsible for performing almost all the activities of daily living (ADLs) for these Alzheimer’s patients. Just imagine how this affects the caregivers.

In 2009, the estimated economic value of the care provided by the family and other unpaid caregivers was $144 billion. This translates to 12.5 billion hours of care valued at a rate of $11.50 per hour. For 2009 the U.S. totals were staggering!  The number of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers was 10,987,887. There were 12,513,005,548 hours of unpaid care valued at $143,899,563,806!

There is nothing kind about Alzheimer’s Disease. It affects the entire family and can create tremendous amounts of stress and hardship. It’s crucial for the caregivers, spouses, children, and others close to the person with Alzheimer’s  reach out to others, join support groups, seek counseling, get help, find an outlet for your own stress. Remember, you are not alone! Take advantages of the many available resources! We should all continue to learn as much as we can about this disease and support research efforts.

A recent study reported that walking 6-9 miles per week will decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s. Again, the importance of exercise and diet only helps us achieve our ultimate goal of maintaining a long, healthy life while aging in place! So, get busy-exercise your body, fuel it properly, and exercise your brain! What do you have to lose?

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