Alzheimer’s disease is a nationwide public health crisis, and it is having an increasingly significant impact on Virginians. New data interpretations from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System proves the need for more Alzheimer’s advocates has never been greater, especially concerning the cognitive effects of the disease. In this article, we have detailed the most profound findings in our hope to gain new Alzheimer’s advocates or renew a sense of urgency for our current advocates.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue, and affects an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease. There is no treatment or cure, and it is fatal.
Researchers believe that the early detection of Alzheimer’s will be key to preventing, slowing and stopping the disease. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s requires a careful and comprehensive medical evaluation, often with the help of a neurologist (2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Association). The benefits of early detection include increased treatment options and access to information, services and support; advance planning for health, housing, finances, care and risk reduction; and better overall health outcomes.
This is especially important, as one in 11 Virginians aged 45 and older report that they are experiencing confusion or memory loss, and nearly half of them have not discussed it with their health care professionals (2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System). Referred to as Subjective Cognitive Decline, these memory impairments interrupt the daily life of affected Virginians. Nearly 30% stated they needed help with daily household chores, 25 percent had to give up day-to-day activities and 2 in 5 stated these memory impairments interfered with social activities.
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Of the top 10 leading causes of death, it is the only one without a way to prevent, treat, or cure the disease. Click here to learn how you can take action as an Alzheimer’s Advocate.