Alzheimer’s – Start Thinking About It Now . The majority of us tend to think that Alzheimer’s Disease is something we do not have to concern ourselves with until we are much older, or we think “it won’t happen to me.” The fact is, it can happen to you, or a loved one, it is more common than you may think, and there are preventative measures you can take which may lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.
The Facts On Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration together with declining activities of daily living and neuropsychiatric symptoms or behavioral changes. It is the most common type of dementia. The most striking early symptom is loss of short term memory (amnesia), which usually manifests as minor forgetfulness that becomes steadily more pronounced with illness progression, with relative preservation of older memories. As the disorder progresses, cognitive (intellectual) impairment extends to the domains of language (aphasia), skilled movements (apraxia), recognition (agnosia), and those functions (such as decision-making and planning) closely related to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as they become disconnected from the limbic system.
- Intellectual stimulation (e.g., playing chess or doing a crossword)
- Regular physical exercise
- A generally healthy diet low in saturated fat, supplemented in particular with B vitamins
- Omega-3 fatty acids, especially Docosahexaenoic acid
- Fruit and vegetable juice
- High doses of the antioxidant Vitamin E (in combination with vitamin C)
- Regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin reduces the chance of dementia but the risks appear to outweigh the drugs’ benefit as a method of primary prevention
- Advancing age
- ApoE epsilon 4 genotype (in some populations)
- Head injury
- Poor cardiovascular health (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol)
Statistics on Alzheimer’s disease
- In the USA, AD was the 7th leading cause of death in 2004, with 65,829 number of deaths (and rising).
- At over $100 billion per year, AD is the third most costly disease in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer.
- There are an estimated 24 million people with dementia worldwide.
- By 2040, it is projected that this figure will have increased to 81 million.
- An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.
- It is projected that 14.3 million Americans will have the disease by mid-century: a 350 percent increase from 2000.
- The federal government estimates spending approximately $647 million for Alzheimer’s disease research in fiscal year 2005.
- The average lifetime cost of care for an individual with Alzheimer’s is $174,000.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Available medications offer relatively small symptomatic benefit for some patients but do not slow disease progression.