November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

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November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Posted on November 23, 2009

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. This degenerative and fatal disease was first described by Alois Alzheimer in 1906; it damages a person’s ability to reason, remember, speak, perform simple calculations, and carry out routine tasks. As of September 2009, the number of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is reported to be 35 million-plus worldwide. That number is estimated to reach approximately 107 million people by 2050.
In the United States, the Alzheimer’s Association 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures reports that there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s.

The reasons or causes of this disease have not been discovered yet but scientists know that it is a degeneration of certain areas of the brain. For a long time, it was often associated to senility or old age; there are now simple and easy tests to detect this type of cognitive impairment. The Alzheimer’s association came up with a list of 10 signs that can help diagnose this fatal brain disease. The NIH has educational resources with videos on the matter and explains very well how it involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Also, the Mayo Clinic launched an entire blog in September 2007 to provide help, advice and news on the topic.

On top of the distress and the informal costs for the family, the lack of effective treatment (yet) and the looming social issues associated to an increasing number of people affected by this disease, it is also a huge cost for our society: Numbers vary between studies but dementia costs worldwide have been calculated around $160 billion, while costs of Alzheimer in the United States may be $100 billion each year.

This November, during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association has listed a variety of ways someone can help fight this disease. Visit their dedicated site for this.