Alzheimer’s Disease: Population Disabled
In the times in which we live, there are many hundreds of institutions that are working on the Alzheimer’s issue. Researchers are hoping to break the mysteries of this disease and wipe it from the face of the earth forever. It is estimated that there are now more than 5.2 million people in the United States living with AD and as the population ages; this number is expected to triple by the year 2050. Among baby boomers aged 55 and over, one in eight will develop AD and one in six will develop a dementia. Half of all persons 85 years and older will develop the disease. Although the illness usually develops in people age 65 or older, it is estimated that over 500,000 people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s have Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the country. According to the California Department of Public Health,
“Currently, there are 588,208 Californians 55 and over living with Alzheimer’s disease; one-tenth of the nation’s Alzheimer’s patients reside in this state. By 2030, this number will nearly double in California; growing to over 1.1 million. Due to a rapidly aging population, the number of California’s Latinos and Asians living with Alzheimer’s disease will triple by 2030. The number of African-Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease will double in this time frame.” (CDPH, 2012) In the meantime, patients are becoming afflicted with this disease on a daily basis with no hope for recovery save for the hope that the advancement of the disease comes at a slower pace for them then for most. Time is not on the side of the patient for as the days, weeks and months that go by, the disease advances as surely as the sun rises. Having become afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease certainly can be a depressing and even humiliating experience to the patient and their families. Often people who are not familiar with the disease may seem to be hesitant to interact with Alzheimer’s patients for fear of possibly becoming afflicted themselves, or perhaps they may have a deep rooted fear that they may have this disease at some point in their lives and cannot bring themselves to see its affects beforehand. Alzheimer’s patients are as human and as deserving of living the life of their own choosing as long as they can just as any other person. They wish to decide for themselves what’s best prior to the advancement of the disease and so they should. Once afflicted they are subject to the helpful decisions of family, medical professionals and various support groups and/or nursing facilities. There are many programs and support groups in the communities across the U.S. and they are of great value to the patients and their families and there is indeed hope that a cure can be found through stem cell and other research. Those who fight for the cure of this disease dedicate their lives to the struggle. Resources for Alzheimer’s patients include the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center. This center was created the in 1990 by the U.S. Congress to compile and report information regarding Alzheimer's disease (AD) for Doctors and other health care professionals, patients with AD, their families, and the public. The center is utilized for its all-encompassing AD information, has been reviewed by NIA scientist and health communicators for accuracy and integrity of patient health strategies. There is also the California Department of Aging (CDA) which oversees programs that serve elderly adults, adults with disabilities, caregivers and individuals in long-term care facilities throughout the state. Funds are allocated under the federal “Older Americans Act”, and through the Medi-Cal program, which is California’s version of Medicaid. Other resources also include Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Services (HICAP) and In Home Services and the Ombudsman Services (for those in long term care facilities).
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