By Pearl Oppenheimer
Seventeen percent of Habersham County residents are at risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, ranks Alzheimer’s as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Late onset Alzheimer’s usually appears in patients around the age of 65. According to the 2013 census, 17 percent of the county’s population consists of those who are 65 or older.
Approximately 5.1 million Americans currently suffer from the disease. The National Institute of Aging estimates that by 2050 the number diagnosed with Alzheimer’s could increase by 8.4 million. Experts say this increased number will add approximately a trillion dollars annually in direct-care costs.
According to their website, Hilarity for Charity, or HFC, is a movement led by comedian Seth Rogen to inspire change and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among the millennial generation. For the past two years, HFC has held variety shows that feature popular entertainers in order to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. They have featured performers such as: Paul Rudd, Bruno Mars, The Backstreet Boys, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Hart and Mindy Kaling.
The rate of those being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is rising. It will be an unfortunate cause of much pain and suffering in the millennial generation as parents and grandparents fall into the affected age range.
The National Institute of Aging wrote, “Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.”
Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease can be as simple as difficulty expressing thoughts and poor judgment. Mild signs include forgetfulness and personality changes. Moderate to severe signs are confusion, impulsive behavior, seizures, difficulty swallowing and loss of bladder control.
According to the Mayo Clinic, drugs such as Cholinesterase inhibitors only aid in the delay of symptoms. “These drugs work by boosting levels of cell-to-cell communication” of the brain. Alzheimer’s disease patients are mostly assisted by the provision of a safe, interactive environment. As well as proper exercise and nutrition to ensure physical health.
There are no known means of prevention. It may be too late to save those who have been lost, but it is not too late to save those still with us.