There are many aspects of growing old that can be a bit scary; however, for most seniors, nothing is more frightening than the thought of developing Alzheimer’s disease. You undoubtedly have some idea what Alzheimer’s is and how it affects those who have it; however, the Rochester elder law attorneys at the Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.C. tell you 10 things you may not already know about Alzheimer’s disease.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, deterioration of thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. These neurons, which produce the brain chemical, or neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, break connections with other nerve cells and ultimately die. For example, short-term memory fails when Alzheimer’s disease first destroys nerve cells in the hippocampus, and language skills and judgment decline when neurons die in the cerebral cortex. Unlike many other diseases, such as AIDS, experts do not believe Alzheimer’s has a single cause. Instead, they believe the disease is multi-faceted with a number of factors influencing the development of the disease. The complexity of the disease makes finding a cure, and even effective treatment for those suffering from the disease, more difficult. While there are some medications on the market now that help slow the cognitive decline that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s for some people, we are not yet close to finding a truly effective treatment regime, much less a cure.
10 Alzheimer Facts You May Not Know
Like most people, you probably have a basic understanding of how Alzheimer’s affects its victims. You may not realize how pervasive the disease is nor how dire the future looks for all of us when it comes to the disease. For example, did you know that:
- An estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s, up from 5 million in 2017.
- By 2050, an estimated 14 million people will be living with Alzheimer’s
- Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It kills more people than breast cancer and prostrate cancer combined.
- Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
- One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s dementia.
- 1 million people provide unpaid care to someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia in America
- Unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care valued at nearly $234 billion a year.
- Between 2000 and 2015, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased 123 percent
- Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds and by 2050, someone in the United States will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
Alzheimer’s and the Need for Incapacity Planning
The Alzheimer statistics don’t paint a pretty picture. While deaths for things such as heart disease have steadily decreased over the past several decades, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased 145 percent from 2000 to 2017. Hopefully, a cure will be found in the nears future. In the meantime, however, it is imperative to plan for the possibility that you will develop the disease. That means incorporating an incapacity plan into your existing estate plan. By doing so, you ensure that someone of your choosing will make decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself one day. You also ensure that your wishes with regard to end of life care will be honored.
Contact Rochester Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about Alzheimer’s disease, or about how to protect yourself or a loved one who has the disease, contact the Rochester elder law attorneys at the Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.C. by calling (585) 546-1734 to schedule an appointment.