Back in 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. At the time, less than 2 million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Today, there are nearly 5.5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S.
Alzheimer’s is an extremely debilitating disease that destroys memory and other basic mental functions slowly over time. At first, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may notice mild confusion and have difficulty remembering small details. Eventually, people with the disease will possibly forget family members and friends plus undergo dramatic personality changes.
There are medications and management strategies that have been shown to temporarily improve symptoms; however, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have also been unable to pinpoint specific causes for Alzheimer’s, though some evidence suggests the condition could be passed down through genetics.
What we do know is that almost two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women. Additionally, African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia as older white people. Also, Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia as older white people.
There is no doubt that Alzheimer’s disease is affecting more and more people every year. Today, someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 66 seconds and scientists predict that by mid-century, someone in the U.S. will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.