As the last week of November’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Month approaches, researchers say that the number of people affected continues to rise tremendously.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2008. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death among Americans, and affects someone in America every 71 seconds.
“Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect older people,” said Afrika Jackson, LPN, at Harbor Chase of Tallahassee Assisted Living Community. “There’s an earlier sign of dementia that can occur at 30.”
Florida researchers estimate that the state has more than 435,000 citizens who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Younger people may get Alzheimer’s disease, said Johnnie Byrd, Former Speaker of the House and founder of Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute in Tampa.
About 3 percent of men and women ages 65 to 74 have the disease and nearly half of those, age 85 and older may also have the disease. According to www.alz.org, blacks are more likely than whites to have Alzheimer’s disease, and that their increased risk of dementia in comparison with whites, is greatly reduced once these factors are taken into account.
Women are more likely than men to have Alzheimer’s disease (2.4 million compared with about 1 million men).
“At our facility, we only have about five men and three African Americans, but the women outweigh the men,” said Lisa Burney, Harbor Chase’s Lead Care Manager. “We have 32 residents in all, the youngest being 50 years-old and the oldest is 99 years-old.”
Unfortunately there is no current cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers at The National Library of Medicine and The National Institutes of Health suggests that patients be “treated with Memantine (Namenda), which is currently the only drug approved for the treatment of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease. Other medicines such as Donepezil (Aricept), Rivastigmine (Exelon), Ralantamine (Razadyne, formerly called Reminyl), and Tacrine (Cognex) can be used to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and possibly improve the person’s mental capability.”
Alfreda Denard, Med-tech at Harbor Chase, described some medicines that residents take.
“The medicines that the residents take include both calcium and laxatives,” Denard said. “We give hem their meds twice a day. It does cause nausea, itchiness, diarrhea and constipation, but it’s required and can help a little.”
Health researchers have discovered that the number of people with Alzheimer’s doubles each decade past age 70, and that having a close blood relative who developed the disease, can also increase people’s risk.
According to www.webmd.com, “an Alzheimer’s vaccine is being studied. However, because of unwanted side effects, the initial clinical trial was stopped. Continued studies are under way to modify the vaccine for improved safety. A number of other therapeutic approaches are being actively investigated. “
To find out more about Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.healthline.com.