The Alzheimer’s Association recently released updated facts and figures on Alzheimer’s disease for 2012. As numbers continue to rise, there are some startling statistics that illustrate the impact of this growing healthcare and caregiving epidemic.
- Someone new develops Alzheimer’s diease every 68 seconds
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the US
- There are over 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in the US
- These 15 million dementia caregivers equal the population of the fifth largest US state – Illinois – where I live
- Since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased 66% while deaths from other major diseases have dropped
- Alzheimer’s cost the US $200 billion annually, and caregivers share this huge financial burden
Each year, November is dedicated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. It is an especially significant time for me to reflect on how this disease has changed my life. Anyone who has witnessed a loved one struggle and eventually succumb to dementia is forever changed by this gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and incurable disease. By its very nature, Alzheimer’s will destroy you as it claims your loved one. It will chew you up and spit you out as you stand by, helpless to stop the progression and inevitable outcome.
The key to emerging from the devastation for me was to find acceptance by determining what I have learned from Alzheimer’s, and then to use that knowledge wisely, both to make me a better person and to help others when possible. I don’t wish Alzheimer’s on anyone, but I do continue to hope that what people find beyond the finality of Alzheimer’s will help them see more clearly and live more purposefully. This is what I have gained from my mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s disease.
Following are a few of the numerous events to be held in conjunction with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.