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Alzheimer's disease will strike one in eight U.S. baby boomers  –  which means that 10 million boomers will develop the mind-wasting disease, according to a new report by the Alzheimer's Association.

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10 Million Boomers Will Develop Alzheimer's

10 Million Boomers Will Develop Alzheimer's

 

Alzheimer's disease will strike one in eight U.S. baby boomers  -  which means that 10 million boomers will develop the mind-wasting disease, according to a new report by the Alzheimer's Association.

 

As many as 5.2 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's. This figure includes 200,000 persons under age 65 with early onset. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that there are approximately 500,000 Americans under age 65 who have Alzheimer's or another dementia, and about 40 percent of them have Alzheimer's disease.

 

Currently, Alzheimer's is the seventh-leading cause of death.  The direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer's and other dementias to Medicare, Medicaid and businesses amount to more than $148 billion each year.

 

With the growth of the older population and the aging of the baby boomer generation, the number of new cases will escalate rapidly over the next 40 years.  The report predicts by 2010, there will be almost a half million new cases of Alzheimer's disease each year, and that by 2050, almost a million new cases will surface each year.   By mid-century, someone will develop Alzheimer's disease every 33 seconds, whereas today someone in America develops Alzheimer's disease every 71 seconds.  Women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer's disease (17 percent vs. 9 percent). The likelihood of developing Alzheimer's doubles every five years after age 65.

 

"Unchecked, this disease will impose staggering consequences on families, the economy and the nation's health and long-term care infrastructure," said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association. In 2007, there were nearly 10 million Americans age 18 and over providing 8.4 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer's disease valued at $89 billion, four times more than what Medicaid pays for nursing home care for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. In addition, a quarter million American children age 8 to 18 years old are providing care to loved ones with Alzheimer's, according to the Association.

 

Nevertheless, most people with Alzheimer's disease end up in a nursing home or an assisted living facility "and three-quarters of people with Alzheimer's will die in such a facility," said Stephen McConnell, the Association's vice president for advocacy and public policy.

 

The U.S. government has cut spending on Alzheimer's research, McConnell said. "Right now the government is spending about $640 million a year on Alzheimer's research," he said. "It seems like a lot, but we are spending over $5 billion a year on cancer, and more than $3 billion on heart disease each year. If we can just get that $640 million up to $1 billion a year that would make a big difference."

 

"There is real hope for a better future where Alzheimer's is no longer a death sentence but how fast we get there depends on how much we are willing to invest today," added Alzheimer's Association president Johns.

To read the report, go to: http://www.alz.org/national/documents/report_alzfactsfigures2008.pdf

 

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases.  The second most common cause of dementia is vascular dementia, often caused by strokes.

 

Alzheimer's starts out with mild memory loss and confusion but escalates into complete memory loss and an inability to care for oneself.  Alzheimer's disease is characterized by deposits in the brain of the protein fragment beta-amyloid (plaques) and twisted strands of the protein tau (tangles).

 

So far, there is no effective treatment to delay or stop the deterioration of brain cells that is the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration has approved five drugs that temporarily slow worsening of the symptoms. On average, these drugs are effective for six to 12 months.

 

Active management of Alzheimer's disease consists of an appropriate medication regimen, counseling, supportive services, residential placements, and adult day services to improve the quality of life of those suffering from the disease and of those who care for them.

 

According to the Alzheimer's Association, there is a shift in focus to preventing the disease rather than curing of the disease.  Evidence tantalizingly suggests that brain health is linked overall to the health of the body's vascular system  -  the heart and blood vessels. Management of cardiovascular risk factors, therefore, such as cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and even diet and exercise, may very well have salutary effects on avoiding or delaying cognitive decline.

 

In fact, new research published in the journal of Neurology has established for the first time a link between middle age obesity plus belly fat to a high risk of dementia in old age.  People who have big bellies in their 40s are much more likely to get Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia in their 70s, according to the research.  The study of more than 6,000 people found that the more belly fat they had in their guts in their early to mid-40s, the greater their chances of becoming forgetful and confused and showing other signs of senility as they aged. Those who had the most expansive mid-sections faced more than twice the risk of the leanest.  Surprisingly, a sizable stomach seems to increase the risk even among those who are not obese or even overweight, the researchers reported.

 

Richard Habiger is an elder law, Medicaid / VA benefits, and Alzheimer's planning attorney.  You may contact him at 618-549-4529 or Richard@HabigerElderLaw.com.

 

 


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Phone: (618) 985-4529