Together, we can end Alzheimer’s diseasePublished 10:10am Friday, August 17, 2012
Column: Amanda Weiss, Guest Column
Alzheimer’s disease is the single largest unaddressed public health threat facing the nation today. As many as 5.4.million Americans are living with the disease and nearly 15 million are acting as caregivers. Currently, it is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease is skyrocketing. The baby boomer generation is growing older — and age is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this devastating disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future for millions. Together we can end Alzheimer’s disease, the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. With Alzheimer’s disease there is no cure. The diagnosis is hell and death is relief. Alzheimer’s disease has no survivors. It destroys brain cells and causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. It slowly and painfully takes away a person’s identity and ability to connect with others, think, eat, talk and walk.
Alzheimer’s can strike people in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. This is called younger-onset Alzheimer’s. It is estimated that there are as many as 5.4 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. This includes 5.2 million people age 65 and over and 200,000 people under age 65 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Over 100,000 Minnesota residents are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s. Ten thousand baby boomers are reaching age 65 on a daily basis; with this happening there will be an epidemic in the country sooner rather than later. Currently Alzheimer’s treatments costs the U.S. an estimated $200 billion a year. If this keeps going, by 2050, that number will be over a trillion dollars. That’s higher than the nation’s current defense budget.
Attention needs to be brought to the world to stress the importance of funding research and providing cost effective resources for families who are battling the disease. While researchers are exploring a pyramid of approaches to preventing or halting the progress of the disease, it is probable that a remedy is at least a decade away. At this time, there is no treatment to cure, delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. FDA-approved drugs temporarily slow worsening of symptoms for about six to 12 months, on average, for about half of the individuals who take them.
This is why I’ve dedicated myself to have a mission to help with eliminating Alzheimer’s disease and bringing awareness to the community in memory of my Grandpa Wayne and all others who have suffered with the horrible disease. My grandpa was only 52 years old when diagnosed and 68 years old when he passed away. This disease does not just affect the individual; it affects everyone around them. Even though this disease occurs one person at a time, the human toll it exacts from the affected individuals, their families and society is profound and will be staggering when growing numbers of families in every Minnesota community are struggling to bear the caregiving and financial burdens presented by Alzheimer’s.
This year, to help those affected by Alzheimer’s, I’m participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Mankato on Sept. 15 to raise funds and awareness. Together, my team hopes to make a real difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
I will walk in my third Alzheimer’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s with my parents Keith and Wendy and brother Ethan by my side. Andrew Irvine will be joining our team helping to advocate to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. This devastating, deteriorating and debilitating disease is the ultimate thief — a thief of memories, thief of independence, thief of control, thief of time and ultimately, thief of life. The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research, and funds we raise will go directly toward supporting their efforts.
By joining the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, you can help end this epidemic and show your support for our community members impacted by Alzheimer’s. Join a team or start a team today at www.alz.org/walk or 1-800-272-3900.
If you would like to make a donation or interested in learning more information, please contact me at 383-4351 or visit my team page located on the Walk to end Alzheimer’s website alz.org: search for my name (Amanda Weiss) under donate and you will find Team Weiss Walking for a Cure. From there you can donate the amount you wish to give. Any amount is appreciated.
Amanda Weiss is an Albert Lea resident and the office administrator at the United Way of Freeborn County.