Memory Matters: 100 years is long enough
100 years is long enough
In 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer presented his documentation of the first case of Alzheimer's disease. His patient," Auguste D.", had been admitted to a hospital in Frankfurt in 1901 with symptoms unlike those of any other disease previously described or diagnosed. Her symptoms included:1) reduced comprehension and memory, 2) agitation, disorientation and unpredictable behavior and 3) trouble reading, writing and spelling. As time progressed she became unresponsive and immobile. After her death and autopsy identified the plaques and tangles that we today associate with Alzheimer's disease.
Who will get Alzheimer's?
Dr. Alzheimer's work helped to uncover a disease that affects millions worldwide. Today there are an estimated 4.5 million people with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050 that number could reach 16 million. Our baby boom generation begins to turn 60 this year and age is the number one risk factor for developing Alzheimer's. One in 10 people over the age of 65 are affected and half of those 85 and older are affected.
Great strides have been made since the initial diagnosis. New research and technologies have allowed us to make significant progress in learning more about the disease. Most of what we have learned about Alzheimer's, we have learned in the last fifteen years. We need to sustain the current pace of discovery in order to develop the next generation of treatments and effective prevention strategies. We can't slow momentum now. In order to continue the fight against Alzheimer's, $1 billion in federal research funding is needed annually.
The Cost of Alzheimer's
The need for a cure for Alzheimer's disease is becoming increasingly urgent as the population ages. The first waves of baby boomers are turning sixty this year. Left unchecked the cost of treating people with Alzheimer's will deplete family assets and our healthcare system. In the next five years Alzheimer's alone will cause annual Medicare and Medicaid expenses to increase sixty five percent. Investing in research now will greatly decrease the human and financial costs to society in the coming years.
You can help
The Alzheimer's Association is second only to the federal government in supporting research for a cure. Consider becoming involved with the Association as a volunteer. Our volunteers provide countless hours of dedicated service by becoming advocates for the cause and raising funds and awareness in the community.
You may consider forming a team to participate in the Memory Walk in Frederick on September 10th. (The money you raise will stay in Washington County to help your neighbors and friends and support research, even though you will walk in Frederick). You may also want to get involved in planning the Forget-Me-Not Gala scheduled for February 17, 2007.
Volunteer Advocates help us petition our lawmakers in Annapolis and Washington, DC for funding and essential support of services for families struggling with a diagnosis. Trained volunteers staff local health fairs and introduce the community to the services the Association provides locally. Our Speakers Bureau is also available for talks on memory and aging and a variety of related topics.
Finally, you might consider joining a research study. In Maryland there are numerous facilities that conduct research projects directly related to Alzheimer's disease. Each study holds the hope that a cure is within grasp. Join in with your fellow citizens and adopt our motto:" the compassion to care , the leadership to conquer". Isn't 100 years of Alzheimer's enough?
The Alzheimer's Association is a 501(c) non-profit organization. The Association enhances care and support for people with Alzheimer's disease, their families, and caregivers and encourages support for research. 5 Public Square, Ste. 307, Hagerstown, MD, 301-797-4892, www.alzgmd.org.