National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating November 2015 as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.  The Alzheimer’s Association is a helpful resource for families dealing with the disease and an excerpt of important information from their website follows:

Quick Facts about Alzheimer’s:  

  • Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
  • Almost 2/3 of American’s with Alzheimer’s are women
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia
  • Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease
  • An estimated 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s

The impact upon caregivers can be substantial In 2014, friends and family of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at $217.7 billion. This is approximately 46 percent of the net value of Walmart sales in 2013 and nearly eight times the total revenue of McDonald’s in 2013.  Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll on caregivers.  Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; about 40 percent suffer from depression. Due to the physical and emotional toll of caregiving, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $9.7 billion in additional health care costs of their own in 2014.

Most people living with Alzheimer’s are not aware of their diagnosis. Despite widespread recognition of the benefits of clear and accurate disclosure, less than half (45 percent) of seniors diagnosed with #Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers report being told the diagnosis by a health care provider, compared with 90 percent or more of those diagnosed with cancer and cardiovascular disease. Health care providers routinely encounter the situation of having to deliver a frightening or upsetting diagnosis to patients and perhaps to relatives, friends and loved ones. Yet there is broad agreement among physician organizations that patients have the right to know and understand their diagnosis. Benefits of disclosing a diagnosis include better diagnosis (opportunity for a second opinion), better decision-making about their lives for both the present and the future, and better medical care.