Combating Alzheimer’s

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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, which marks an important time to talk about the widespread challenges facing our society due to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Indeed, these mysterious diseases have impacted all of us, whether we have had a family member or a friend suffer and tragically pass away as a result. My family understands firsthand how exceedingly difficult it is to watch someone you love helplessly deteriorate because of dementia. It was heartbreaking to see my own father suffer and worsen through the various stages of Alzheimer’s during the last several years of his life.

While Alzheimer’s disease is all too familiar and personal for many American families, there is still a lot we don’t know about its cause or why it rapidly progresses. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in America and the fifth among seniors. Alzheimer’s is also credited as the most expensive disease in the United States, straining both public and private dollars. In fact, Alzheimer’s and other dementias are estimated to cost the nation approximately $290 billion this year alone. Along the current trajectory, the cost of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to eclipse $1 trillion by 2050. But that estimate doesn’t account for the human cost, including decline in the health of family members who often serve as caretakers and take on the immense physical and emotional burden that comes with that job.  

 

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