Alzheimer’s: Aging my way

05/21/2022
Cathy Brownfield

In 2021, there were 6.25 million Americans with Alzheimer’s: 1.1 million black, .76 million Latino, and 4.4 million non-Hispanic white. By 2060 those numbers are expected to double or more. (Black, 3.1 million; Latino, 3.7 million and non-Hispanic white, 7 million). More than 260,000 deaths annually are Alzheimer’s or dementia-related.

 

May is Older Americans Month, this year’s theme, “Age my way!” The goals are ways older adults can remain in and stay involved with their communities. The celebration includes the 10-year anniversary of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. The national – not federal – plan originated in 2012 with five goals:

1.) Prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.

2.) Make the most of care quality and efficiency.

3.) Make more support available for people with Alzheimer’s and their families.

 

4.) Increase public awareness and involvement.

5.) Track progress and push for improvement.

At that time, “The number of people age 65 and older in the U.S. is expected to grow from 40 million in 2010 to 72.1 million in 2030. The prevalence of people with AD doubles every five-year interval beyond age 65,” according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released the FY 2023 bypass budget and reports “…additional NIH resources needed for new Alzheimer’s and related dementia research are $226 million, which would bring the total FY 2023 NIH resource needs to $3.4 billion.”

Annual updates have been released, creating a timeline tracking the achievements of the national plan. Last year a sixth goal was added to the plan: accelerate action to promote healthy aging and reduce risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.

Also in 2021, the first drug to be approved for Alzheimer’s treatment since 2003 was given FDA approval. Aducanumab attacks the biology of the disease. While the brain continues to produce beta-amyloid, the drug decreases the amount of it, and may help brain process work better, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org).

Aducanumab is the first therapy to demonstrate that removing beta-amyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease, from the brain is reasonably likely to reduce cognitive and functional decline with people living with early Alzheimer’s. Early detection and accurate diagnosis are needed. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns.

“People who get enough physical activity, keep the mind active, avoid smoking and choose a high quality diet are at a substantially lower risk of Alzheimer’s,” advises an analysis from the National Institute on Aging which also focuses on improving the quality of care, life and caregiving by identifying the gaps and opportunities in research.

There used to be a public service announcement on television that said, “A brain is a terrible thing to waste.” That couldn’t be truer with the prevalence of and battle against this horrible disease and the overwhelming distress on family and others who accompany their loved one on the Alzheimer’s journey.

Family Recovery Center offers mental health services as well as addiction services. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the website at familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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