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Report calls Alzheimer’s defining disease of Baby Boomers

Starting this year, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65. As these baby boomers age, one in eight will develop Alzheimer's — a devastating, costly, heartbreaking disease. Increasingly for these baby boomers, it will no longer be their grandparents and parents who have Alzheimer's — it will be them.

Historically, the focus of the Alzheimer's field has centered on care strategies for people in the middle and late stages of the disease. Firsthand knowledge of the experience of lay and professional caregivers of those with Alzheimer's has been available, but there has been a lack of insight into the true experience and perspectives of people actually diagnosed with the disease.

Over the last decade, new information has emerged focusing on the person in the early stages of dementia. The Central Michigan Region of the Alzheimer's Association will be offering strategies for care partnerships, early stage support group development and improved awareness of the unique issues faced by those with early stage dementia as part of its 2012 programs and services.

"Today, more than 5 million Americans have this disease — including 24,000 right here in Central Michigan. Even though this disease kills more Americans than diabetes and more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, there are still too few people who understand the anguish caused by Alzheimer's," said Patty Meyer, director of the Central Michigan Region. "Baby boomers are at the epicenter of a major Alzheimer's disease crisis in America with staggering implications for families and the country's health care system."

According to the report, an estimated 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer's — one in eight will either die with or from this disease. While Alzheimer's is not normal aging, age is the greatest risk factor for the disease. With one of the most unprecedented demographic shifts starting this year, the report underscores the need for urgent attention to change the trajectory of this disease.

"The anguish of Alzheimer's is not just experienced by individuals with the disease. Their friends, families and communities suffer right along with them. Today there are 11 million friends and families — people right here in Michigan — who are looking after a loved one with Alzheimer's and grappling with the enormous challenges this disease places on their well-being, health and jobs. People in the early stages of Alzheimer's have a unique opportunity, prior to the truly debilitating effects of the disease, to play an active role in their own decision making and to participate in planning their experience with the disease," said Meyer.

Beyond the significant toll on families, the financial burden on families is significant and can quickly escalate beyond what is affordable. These costs rival what Alzheimer's will cost the nation. Over the next 40 years, Alzheimer's will cost $20 trillion, enough to pay off the national debt and still send a $20,000 check to every man, woman and child in America.

The Alzheimer's Association's Generation Alzheimer's report can be viewed at www.alz.org/boomers.

The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

 

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