Alzheimer’s and You

I am ashamed to admit, despite being in the medical profession, my knowledge of Alzheimer’s is very limited.  In part as well culturally, in the Asian community, its an unspoken about disease.  Aside from being extremely hard to get the immigrant population to see a doctor when the first signs and symptoms begin to appear, it’s the nature of the culture to hide crazy auntie or crazy uncle.  It’s also one of anyone’s biggest fears in the aging process, am I losing my mind?

Did you know that Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and is not a normal part of aging?  While there are millions of diseases in this world, I was surprised just how little I actually knew about this devastating, debilitating and incurable disease that affects more than 5.4 million Americans.  Its symptoms develop slowly, although researchers now believe that the actual neurological damage begins years or even decades before the first problems with memory or confusion surface. Those symptoms are progressive and ultimately rob the individual of mental and physical function.

As our country ages, the number of people touched by Alzheimer’s only continues to increase. Already, more than a third of the U.S. adult population has some personal connection to the disease, through a spouse, family member or other blood relative.  While no one in my family was diagnosed officially with this disease, with my new found knowledge, it has given me some pregnant pauses and wonder if so and so… might have had Alzheimer’s.

With one new case diagnosed every 6.9 seconds, by 2030, that number could exceed 7.7 million.  Even scarier is that Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. And the only one of the top 10 causes of death that cannot currently be prevented, treated or cured. That sounds completely horrible doesn’t it?  [quote]So what can we do if it can’t be prevented, treated or cured?  [/quote]

Don’t stop trying!  Never say never.  Join the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry.  Just because it can’t be prevented, treated or cured NOW, doesn’t mean it can’t in the future!  The goal of the registry is to enroll 100,000 people by June 2013.  The registry promises to provide regular updates on the latest scientific advances and news, as well as information on overall brain health.  It will also provide  an unprecedented resource of potential study participants for prevention research and offer valuable resources of simple, easy to understand news in partnership with AlzForum.  On occasion, the Registry also will reach out to members through brief online surveys about Alzheimer’s. These will take less than 10 minutes to complete and may be used to screen for potential participants in future research opportunities or to inform the design of future trials. Other surveys may be used to address relevant research topics, such as the prevalence of risk factors in the Registry community or members’ attitudes toward genetic testing.  Individuals who enroll in the Registry are under no obligation to take part in prevention studies or other research trials. You may be notified of opportunities to learn more about pending research, but whether you pursue participation in any study is entirely up to you. Even if you express initial interest in a study, you are under no obligation to participate and of course, you can remove yourself from the Registry at any time.