The number of Americans living with Alzheimer's disease is growing—and growing fast.
Researchers with the Alzheimer’s Association say more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. But what’s scary is that 10 percent of people age 65 and older have Alzheimer's dementia, which is a a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.
Another Alzheimer’s Disease fact that many people don’t know is that almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women. Research shows women are more impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease than men. And heart disease rates are dropping, while the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease keeps going up.
Since June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, we’d like to share some Alzheimer’s Disease facts that will help you understand how the disease develops and what you can do to decrease your risk.
Alzheimer’s Disease Fact: It is Fatal
Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, it kills more people than breast and prostate cancer combined.
If you develop Alzheimer's you’ll live an average of eight years after your symptoms become noticeable to others, but your survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on your age and other health conditions.
Alzheimer’s Disease Fact: It is Not Normal Aging
It’s a progressive brain disease. Dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years.
Typical age-related changes that occur in older adults include:
- Losing things from time to time
- Forgetting what day it is and remembering it later
- Missing a monthly payment
In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, you’ll lose your ability to carry on a conversation and respond to your environment.
Alzheimer’s Disease Fact: It is More Than Memory Loss
It appears through a variety of signs and symptoms. They include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life like forgetting important dates, or asking the same questions over and over.
- Having trouble planning or solving problems. You may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
- Finding it hard to complete daily tasks.
- Losing track of dates or the passage of time.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace your steps.
The complete list can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association website. Just keep in mind that you could experience one or more of these symptoms, and if you notice any of them, you should see your doctor.
Alzheimer's Disease Fact: There is No Cure
There is no current cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. It is the only cause of death (among the top 10 in America) that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
Although current Alzheimer's treatments can’t stop the disease from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Researchers are working hard to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
In fact, five prescription medicines have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms that impact thinking and memory.
Alzheimer's Disease Fact: Preventative Measures
You can decrease your risk by living a healthy lifestyle. A recent study found exercise can improve brain health. Eating the right foods can have a similar effect. The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation even recommends things like:
- Stress Relief
- Brain Games
While the work continues to find a way to battle Alzheimer’s Disease, there are other diseases and conditions older adults need to be concerned about. You can learn about them in our guide “The Most Concerning Health Issues for Older Adults.” In it you’ll learn about the disease that affects 25 percent of all older adults in the United States and what kills an estimated 81 percent of adults over age 65.