Over the last century, the life expectancy of the average American has almost doubled. While living longer is certainly something to look forward to, the increased lifespan can be both a blessing and a curse. Advances in medicine and science have led to the increased lifespan; however, a way to slow down the natural aging process has remained elusive, as has a cure for age related dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Like most people, you undoubtedly know a little about Alzheimer’s; however, there may also be a lot about the disease that you don’t know – and some of it may surprise you. For example, did you already know the following 10 things about Alzheimer’s?
- Alzheimer’s was identified over a century ago. That’s correct. Although we often think of Alzheimer’s as a new disease that has just recently started to impact the elderly population in the United States, the truth is that Alzheimer’s was first recognized back in 1906 and named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).
- 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia disease. In fact, Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
- Early onset Alzheimer’s is thought to be genetic. About five percent of all Alzheimer patients suffer from “early onset Alzheimer’s,” characterized by the onset of symptoms prior to turning 60 years old. Experts believe that most instances of early onset Alzheimer’s are caused by the patient inheriting one of three genetic mutations.
- More people suffer from Alzheimer’s than you likely realize. At this time, there are approximately 5 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s in the U.S. By the year 2050, that number is projected to increase to 16 million.
- The cost of care is staggering. In 2017 alone, the cost of caring for Alzheimer patients is expected to be about $260 billion. Family and other caregivers will give another 18 million hours of unpaid care valued at an additional $230 billion.
- Alzheimer’s causes more than just loss of memory. We associate the loss of memory with Alzheimer’s. The disease does cause the loss of memory; however, it does much more than that as well. Your body essentially forgets how to function. Alzheimer’s disease causes death, as its progression eventually prevents the individual from engaging innate abilities like moving and swallowing.
- Sleep deprivation could increase your odds of getting Alzheimer’s. Amyloid, a memory-robbing protein, builds up in your brain when you get too little sleep, according to a recent study. And that type of protein is thought to attack the brain’s long-term memory and trigger Alzheimer’s.
- Family caregivers often face declining health. Unpaid caregivers for those who have Alzheimer’s or other dementia are more likely to have higher levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, new hypertension, and new heart disease than non-caregivers.
- Minorities are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. African-Americans are about twice as likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s and Hispanics one and a half times as likely as older whites.
- Every 66 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s. By the middle of this century, experts predict that someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds if a way to prevent or cure the disease is not found.
If you have questions or concerns about the legal and/or estate planning issues related to Alzheimer’s in New York, contact an experienced New York State estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.