November 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm , by Amelia Harnish
I’m 23. Am I worried about Alzheimer’s? Not really. But for some time now I’ve had this sinking feeling that I probably should be. My grandmother may not have an official diagnosis yet, but the evidence is starting to pile up. My mom noticed something was wrong when my grandmother started calling about her TV remote not working, and then calling back 10 minutes later as if they’d never spoken. Now she has to be reminded repeatedly where I am: New York. Soon she’ll have to be reminded who I am: Amelia, second grandchild. And after that, who knows, maybe the reminders won’t work anymore.
It’s devastating to watch someone lose their mind, no matter how old they are. Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Deaths from Alzheimer’s rose 66 percent between 2000 and 2008, and the disease will continue to affect more people as baby boomers reach 65 and older.
The worst part about Alzheimer’s is that it robs you of your memory and your personality way before it takes your life. Besides wreaking havoc on patients’ and caregivers’ emotional lives, the financial toll is huge. In 2011, Americans will spend $183 billion to care for those with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, we’ll be spending $1.1 trillion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
All this boils down to one thing: we’ve got to act now. We don’t know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s. We don’t know enough about how to prevent Alzheimer’s. And we don’t have effective treatments to even slow it down. We’ve got to figure this out! Read more