After age 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years. Given that baby boomers are now turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day, the 77 million baby boomers in America may eventually be known as Generation Alzheimer’s.
So what should boomers look for? Alzheimer's is a type of dementia and is defined as a progressive brain disease that affects memory, thinking and behavior. The disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist who first identified the disease in 1906.
Not to be confused with regular signs of aging, such as temporary memory loss or confusion, Alzheimer’s symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, eventually becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks and relationships. Alzheimer’s ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and one in eight older Americans has the disease.
Current Alzheimer’s treatments won’t stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, but they can slow the deterioration significantly, improving the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. That is why early detection and treatment plans are essential.
For more information about the irreversible disease and the difference between Alzheimer’s and normal signs of aging, the Alzheimer's Association offers a list of 10 early detection signs. Beware that you may more easily identify and classify symptoms in others than in yourself, so it is wise to review the detection list with your spouse or a close friend. Visit a geropsychologist or other physician trained in assessing forms of dementia for confirmation. Those dealing with Alzheimer’s, whether patients or caregivers, can call 1-800-272-3900 anytime to connect with support resources in local communities.
What experiences have you or an aging loved one had with detecting Alzheimer’s and seeking help for this disease?