September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and it gives all of us a wonderful opportunity to spread the word, educate the masses, and advocate, advocate, advocate! There are still plenty of people out there that think ALZ is “just being forgetful” or “a normal part of aging.” Neither could be further from the truth, but these are indeed very common misconceptions.
To be honest, until I began this journey with my mom, I didn’t realize the magnitude of the illness or the many ways in which it can manifest itself. It’s a slow, agonizing process that steals every last bit of dignity from its victims. And it causes us to mourn the loss of our loved ones over and over and over again. They’re physically present, but they are just the shell of the person they used to be. Each day, we lose a little more of them.
Click here to read the story of Jordan, diagnosed with early onset four years ago. The younger the victim, the more misconceptions and the greater the stigma.
Those are just a few of the human aspects of the disease. The facts and statistics are an entirely different topic. Consider these numbers:
- 5.4 million people have Alzheimer’s; projection for 2050, 14-16 million
- The annual cost is $200 billion
- ALZ is the 6th leading cause of death
- There are an estimated 15 million unpaid caregivers
- Every 69 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s
- Two thirds of those with the disease are women
- In 2011, Medicare & Medicaid spent $130 billion caring for people with ALZ; projection for 2050, $805 billion
Those numbers are staggering. Every time I see them, I am blown away. 5.4 MILLION people with the disease. $130 BILLION spent in 2011. And that’s Medicare/Medicaid. Imagine the overall cost of private pay care. $75,000/year is probably about right for the Midwest. These people who worked hard for 30+ years are spending their pension, Social Security, and “nest egg” for care; not exactly how they thought retirement would look, is it?
This is why it’s so very important that people understand the severity of the problem and the exponential growth we’re looking at in the years to come. We must lobby. We must educate. We must eradicate Alzheimer’s.