The Good News. The Bad News. And the Reality Check that’s Needed.

Below is a post that I have re-posted from my new Alzheimer’s blog from yesterday: http://www.laughingatalzheimers.com.

You’ll see some of my past posts from Life On Wry that are related to my Mom and our journey with Alzheimer’s there for a bit as I get this new blog up to speed.  But don’t worry, LifeOnWry isn’t going anywhere!  As always, thanks for being on this journey called life with me!

alzheimer's statistic

Good News.

On several news stations yesterday I heard about the latest government report revealing that cancer death incidents have fallen in the United States by an average of 1.8 percent in men and 1.4 percent in women.  These percentages don’t sound dramatic, until you consider that the numbers didn’t start even falling until after the early 1990s.

Further, scientists report that the incidence of cancer and subsequent deaths could be further reduced if all those with New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise and quit smoking would stick to their plans.

There is still much to be done to research, prevent and combat Cancer, the second most common cause of death in the US, but the fact that these numbers are decreasing – rather than increasing – is good news.

Added to that is the fact that the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67%, up from 49% in 1975-1977. The improvement in survival reflects both progress in diagnosing certain cancers at an earlier stage and improvements in treatment, according to a 2012 Cancer Facts & Figures report.  In other words, research.

Bad News.

Now for the bad news. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is on the rise throughout the world.  And there is still no known cure or way to prevent it, no remissions.  In fact, it is always fatal, causing brain changes that eventually impair an individual’s ability to carry out such basic bodily functions as walking and eventually swallowing.

According to a 2012 Alzheimer’s disease Facts & Figures report, about 5.4 million Americans now have AD. By 2050, more than 15 million Americans could be living with the disease, unless scientists develop new approaches to prevent or cure it.

In fact, every 68 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. By mid-century, someone in America will develop the disease every 33 seconds. It is estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of AD will be diagnosed this year alone.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, AD is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of death in Americans over age 65 years. And although the proportions of deaths due to other major causes of death have decreased in the last several years, the proportion due to AD has risen significantly.

Researchers have long noted that funding for Alzheimer’s research lags significantly compared to funding for other major ailments. According to University of Mississippi Medical Center, the $450 million allocated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for Alzheimer’s is equivalent to less than 15% of the research funding for HIV/AIDS, less than 11% of funding for cardiovascular disease research, and less than 8% of funding for cancer research.

And for every $28,000 spent on Alzheimer’s patient care, only $100 is spent on research.  In fact, the government funds more nutrition research than it does Alzheimer’s research.

Reality Check Needed.

Through exciting research initiatives, scientists continue to make headway in understanding this devastating disease. They believe we are getting close and even at a tipping point.  We just need a commitment from the federal government to fund the level of research necessary to tip the scales on a disease with these startling numbers staring us in the face.

And we’re getting there. In January of 2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) was signed into law by President Obama. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) will create a coordinated national plan to overcome the Alzheimer’s crisis and will ensure the coordination and evaluation of all national efforts in Alzheimer’s research, clinical care, institutional, and home- and community-based programs and their outcomes.

But that’s just the beginning. Because there are no survivors of this disease, and those affected directly are largely unable to advocate for themselves and for the need for more research (like many AIDS and Cancer survivors are able to do), we must speak out about the need to federally prioritize the impending Alzheimer’s epidemic.

Members of the public — not just medical and association professionals — need to speak up and take action, to contact their representatives in Congress and become advocates through the Alzheimer’s Association.  To defend helpless Alzheimer’s victims, much like we defend the voiceless for other causes in our society.

The time is now to take action.

Visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s  advocacy pages for a simple way speak up for those affectedhttp://www.kintera.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=mmKXLbP8E&b=7516993&auid=8520366

The Alzheimer’s Association — and for Coloradans – it’s the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado — is the best place for families to go to learn about programs and services available to those on the Alzheimer’s journey, as well as about opportunities to participate in local research through TrialMatch.

Believe me, you have no idea how awesome this organization is until you’re faced with this disease and they help you breathe easier.

alz.org/co | 800 272 3900 helpline 24/7

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