June marks Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, which serves as a reminder of the need to slow down, prevent and ultimately cure terrible diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans are suffering with some form of dementia, and it is estimated that one in every three seniors die as a result. Throughout this month, we recognize the need for disease research to find clues and answers, but we also think of those we know – or have known – afflicted with the slow-killing disease. My family, like many others across the country, knows the heartbreaking decline that takes place in those suffering with Alzheimer’s all too well.
As Father’s Day approaches, I am remembering good memories and lessons learned from my dad, but I am also sadly thinking of the battle he lost his life to due to Alzheimer’s disease. During the last several years of my father’s life, my family watched helplessly and with heavy hearts as he became a different person and slowly lost a lifetime of memories throughout the various stages of the disease.
While Alzheimer’s disease is all too familiar and personal for many American families, there is still a lot we don’t know about its cause or why and how it progresses. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in America. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s cases are currently on track to increase dramatically as the “baby boomer” generation gets older. By 2050, it is projected that the number of Americans, 65 and older, with Alzheimer’s could reach 13.8 million.
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