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Published on: March 14, 2012
by David Masko for Huliq:
It claimed the life and mind of President Ronald Reagan. In the United States, an estimated 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and someone develops the disease every 69 seconds,” according to the latest projections released by the national Alzheimer’s Association.
In turn, a March 12 report from the Baltimore Sun points to a Johns Hopkins psychiatrist who references steps that may slow or even prevent “dementia and its evil twin, Alzheimer’s.” Meanwhile, the doctor is also stating that Alzheimer’s has now moved up the list of “most feared disease, especially among Baby Boomers, who have begun to believe it is their inescapable fate if they have the bad luck to live too long.”
At the same time, Dr. Susan Lehmann, who specializes in geriatric psychiatry at the famed Johns Hopkins Hospital, told the Baltimore Sun in a recent interview that “there is a lot of emerging research that suggests that there are things we can do as early as midlife that may have a positive impact on brain function.”
Of the estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages now suffering from Alzheimer’s – that’s reflected in a 2012 Texas Alzheimer’s Research Consortium report – “this figure includes 5.2 million people aged 65 and older and 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have familial or early-onset Alzheimer’s.”
Some memory changes in aging are normal
Doctor Lehmann also told the Baltimore Sun, in a March 12 story that appeared in Eugene’s Register Guard and other national newspapers, that “there is such a thing as normal memory change with age, just as there are normal changes in vision.”
In turn, this Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s expert explained how human brains “will not always work as fast as we’d like,” and it “won’t be good at multitasking,” and these are “normal changes” for those Baby Boomers and others who are aging.
Meanwhile, the doctor said it’s true “that we’re seeing more dementia and more Alzheimer’s disease,” but so too is the fact that Boomers are getting older and living longer.
Thus, Doctor Lehman said: “The expectation is that 45 percent of those who have some form of dementia by age 85 or 90, but that is not 100 percent.”
For instance, she said “a healthy heart always promotes a healthy brain,” during this Baltimore Sun interview.
Exercise viewed as one way to prevent Alzheimer’s
While Doctor Lehman told the Baltimore Sun recently that “no study has proved that exercise can prevent dementia, there have been studies in which women who reported the highest levels of physical activity also had the slowest cognitive decline.”
In turn, a Coos Bay, Oregon, senior named Richard Hobsbawm says he takes daily walks with his dog and daughter Agnes “to ward off the dementia.” Hobsbawm also told Huliq during a recent interview that he’s feels better “when I’m busy physical and mentally.”
Hobsbawn’s wife Katherine passed from Alzheimer’s, and thus he’s made it his mission “to do what I can to keep my mind sharp. Walking does that for me, thus far, “the senior says with his straight talk and simple answers about a very complex disease that robs people of their memories and personal identity.
President Reagan most famous Alzheimer’s victim
It was back in August 1994, that former President Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 83.
In turn, the former president informed the nation through a handwritten letter, stating:
“I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease… At the moment I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done… I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.”
Sadly, President Reagan died of pneumonia at his home in Bel Air, California on June 5, 2004.
His wife, Nancy Reagan, released a statement shortly after the president’s death: “My family and I would like the world to know that President Ronald Reagan has died after 10 years of Alzheimer’s disease at 93 years of age. We appreciate everyone’s prayers.”
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are 500,000 Americans younger than 65 with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Of these, approximately 40 percent are estimated to have Alzheimer’s. One out of eight people age 65 and older (13 percent) has Alzheimer’s disease. Women, who on average live longer than men, are more likely than men to have Alzheimer’s disease.
In turn, a 2012 Texas Alzheimer’s Research Consortium report states that “the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is advancing age, but Alzheimer’s is not a part normal of aging. A small percentage of Alzheimer’s disease cases, probably less than 1 percent, are caused by rare genetic variations found in a small number of families worldwide.
Also, the Alzheimer’s Association lists the following facts about the disease on its website:
— Alzheimer’s is the most frequent cause of dementia, accounting for 70 percent of all cases of dementia in Americans aged 71 and older.
— By 2030, all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old. That year, the number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is expected to reach 7.7 million, a nearly 50 percent increase from the 5.2 million age 65 order older currently affected.
— By 2050, that number is expected to reach between 11 and 16 million unless medical breakthroughs identify ways to prevent or more effectively treat the disease. Barring such developments, by 2050 more than 60 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease will be aged 85 or older.
Overall, the Alzheimer’s Association explains how “dementia is caused by various diseases and conditions that result in damaged brain cells or connections between brain cells.”
The Alzheimer’s Association also notes that symptoms must include decline in memory and in at least one of the following cognitive abilities:
— Ability to generate coherent speech or understand spoken or written language.
— Ability to recognize or identify objects, assuming intact sensory function.
— Ability to execute motor activities, assuming intact motor abilities, sensory function and comprehension of the required task.
— Ability to think abstractly, make sound judgments and plan and carry out complex tasks.
Also, the association states how “the decline in cognitive abilities must be severe enough to interfere with daily life.”
“Away from Her” helps people understand
At many Alzheimer’s hospitality programs nationwide, one recent film, titled “Away from Her,” is shown to family members of those who have someone in their family or lives with either dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In the film “Away from Her,” for example, a couple whose marriage is tested when the wife begins to suffer from Alzheimer’s and moves into a nursing home, where she loses virtually all memory of her husband and begins to develop a close relationship with another nursing home resident.
The film “Away from Her” received vastly favorable reviews from critics, with many movie experts putting it on their top ten lists of the best films of 2007; while, today, the film has been re-released on DVD, and now used as a tool for helping people understand this complex and somewhat alarming disease that robs people of their memories, and their lives.
Alzheimer’s versus normal memory loss?
According to a new book “Is This Normal: The Essential Guide to Middle Age and Beyond,” by Dr. John Whyte, chief medical expert for the Discovery Channel,” “memory loss is normal and to be expected as we get older;” while “the brain keeps producing new brain cells until we die,” and “you need a CT scan if you have unexplained memory loss” to find the true cause.
Doctor Whyte also writes how “many older – and not so old – adults share a common fear: loss of memory.”
However, the doctor writes “there is a big difference between normal absentmindedness and the types of memory loss associated with dementia such as Alzheimer’s.”
In turn, Doctor Whyte states that “some forgetfulness and slowing of mental responses are a normal part of aging. After all, aging affects memory by changing the way the brain stores information and thereby makes it harder to recall stored memories.”
Still, Alzheimer’s is a disease that’s affecting the brain of millions of Americans. “Unfortunately, it is not reversible and gets progressively worse over time.”
In turn, those who suffer from Alzheimer’s “often undergo personality in unusual behaviors. As the disease worsens, they become unable to take care of themselves, unable to perform what we call activities of daily living (e.g., eating, bathing, walking, climbing stairs, grooming). Finally, long-term memory is impacted, and that’s usually the last cognition to be affected.”
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