Sunday, September 20, 2009

Today ....

Is National Alzheimer's Day

All of the facts that I'm about to give you comes from The Alzheimer's Association's website.

Did you know that there are about 3.5 million people with Alzheimer's in the United States. Can you imagine how many there are world-wide?

Did you know that the healthcare costs for people 65 years and older are tripled because of Alzheimer's and dementia related disorders?

Did you know that someone develops Alzheimer's approximately every 70 seconds?

Did you know that the seventh leading cause of death is Alzheimer's?

Did you know that more than $148 billion dollars each year are spent by Medicare, Medicaid and businesses as a direct, and indirect, result of Alzheimer's and other dementias?

Ten Signs of Alzheimer's

1. Memory Changes that disrupt daily life.

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.

3. Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure.

4. Confusion with time or place.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.

8. Decreased or poor judgement.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.

10. Changes in mood or personality.

Risk Factors

(I am going to cut and paste this directly from the site)


The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age. Most individuals with the disease are 65 or older. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles about every five years after age 65. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent.

Family history

Another risk factor is family history. Research has shown that those who have a parent, brother or sister, or child with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness. When diseases tend to run in families, either heredity (genetics) or environmental factors or both may play a role.

Genetics (heredity)

Scientists know genes are involved in Alzheimer’s. There are two categories of genes that can play a role in determining whether a person develops a disease. Alzheimer genes have been found in both categories:

1) Risk genes increase the likelihood of developing a disease, but do not guarantee it will happen. Scientists have so far identified one Alzheimer risk gene called apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4).
APOE-e4 is one of three common forms of the APOE gene; the others are APOE-e2 and APOE-e3. APOE provides the blueprint for one of the proteins that carries cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Everyone inherits a copy of some form of APOE from each parent. Those who inherit one copy of APOE-e4 have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Those who inherit two copies have an even higher risk, but not a certainty. Scientists do not yet know how APOE-e4 raises risk. In addition to raising risk, APOE-e4 may tend to make symptoms appear at a younger age than usual.
Experts believe there may be as many as a dozen other Alzheimer risk genes in addition to APOE-e4.

2) Deterministic genes directly cause a disease, guaranteeing that anyone who inherits them will develop the disorder. Scientists have found rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s in only a few hundred extended families worldwide.
When Alzheimer’s disease is caused by deterministic genes, it is called “familial Alzheimer’s disease,” and many family members in multiple generations are affected. True familial Alzheimer’s accounts for less than 5 percent of cases.
Genetic tests are available for both APOE-e4 and the rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s. However, health professionals do not currently recommend routine genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease. Testing for APOE-e4 is sometimes included as a part of research studies.

I know first hand the toil that Alzheimer's takes not only on the patient, but on the family. After a while the person with Alzheimer's doesn't know any more - but the family does. It's the family that has to watch what I refer to as "the death of the soul". It's the family that, at the end, bears the brunt of the last stages of the disease.

Please, if you know someone who is taking care of an Alzheimer's (or dementia) patient, offer to spell them for an hour; take meals to them; clean their house - do laundry, etc. Anything is a blessing to those taking care of loved ones. For that matter, do this for anyone that is the caregiver of anybody.

I miss you mommie

Died of Alzheimer's October 14, 2006


Bebo said...

I miss her too. :(

Brandy said...

What a lovely tribute to your Mother, to remind others that this is not a well recognized disease and there are those out there that need help.

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