So if you looked at the link for the cold hard facts from the last blog entry you would know that all of the other major causes of death are on the decline but Alzheimer's Disease, the sixth leading cause of death in America is up 66%. Think about that for a minute, 66%, that is definitely what most would consider an epidemic. Wouldn't you? So why aren't we doing even more to try to figure out this disease? Well the answer is probably very difficult but for many years too many people thought is was some kind of normal aging thing and it only happened to elderly people so they were able to justify keeping it on the back burner. The Alzheimer's Association has worked diligently since it's inception to lobby for more research and resources for those that suffer but it fell on deaf ears for a lot of years. Or at least wouldn't resonate to the point of getting any legislation passed at the federal level. I am proud to report that NAPA (National Alzheimer's Project Act) was passed by congress and signed in to law by President Obama this year (2011). I was part of this movement with my first trip to Washington DC so it was so gratifying to see it actually get passed. It is only a start though, but it does shine a light on what needs to be done. Getting it done now is something else but it is a wondrous start none the less. I hope to keep advocating for more and more to be done, I ask that everyone make their voices heard on this, it is really simple through the Alzheimer's Association. Just go to this page at the association and at least consider becoming an advocate. It can require as little as lending your name on a pre-written e-mail that goes to your congressional representatives. Believe me, they pay attention to large numbers of their constituents asking for the same thing. You have the power to not only not vote for them but influence those around you to not vote for them so if they are any good at what they are supposed to be doing they will pay attention. It really takes almost none of your time at the lowest commitment levels so please just do it! Thanks!
So I did some blogging on another site a few years back but haven't done that for quite a while but I am going to try to start blogging regularly because it is very good for the brain. When you are suffering from dementia you have to make a decision if you are still capable of understanding what is happening to you. You have to make up your mind if you are just going to give up and let the disease take you at whatever pace it wants or you can do things that are thought to help with progression and symptoms. Apathy is a constant battle with dementia and a very difficult symptom all sufferers have to do their best to overcome if you decide to do what you can to slow the progression. While there is nothing known at this time to slow progression of any type of dementia, there is some evidence that challenging your brain on a regular basis and getting exercise are very important. There are drugs that are proven to help with Alzheimer's symptoms but they do not slow the progression. These same drugs are used frequently with other types of dementia (FTD, Lewy Body, Vascular to name a few) but there is no research that shows they help with the symptoms, they are given because there is nothing else to prescribe. It really is sad that considering Alzheimer's Disease was first discovered in the late 1800's that there has never been a priority at the federal level to put the necessary resources behind research. They are starting to have some exciting breakthroughs but in many ways it is the tip of the iceberg. Especially with other diseases like FTD which is the second most common dementia behind Alzheimer's Disease and it is a disease of younger productive people. Many often still have young children in the home and they are struck down out of the work force at a time when they should be moving towards their greatest potential. This costs everyone money because generally they (like me) end up on Social Security Disability Income and when the disease progresses enough are often in nursing facilities on Medicaid because all of their financial resources have been exhausted. The cost in 2011 to taxpayers was over 100 million dollars. This is NOT just a humane issue, this is a financial crisis as the baby boomers age the cases of Alzheimer's are projected to skyrocket in to unbelievable and unsustainable costs to society. Here is a link to some of the cold hard facts. More to come soon.
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