Dementia, especially Alzheimer’s, is running rampant in the United States and according to the experts, it is expected to get worse.
It is estimated that in this year alone, every 66 seconds, someone in the United States will develop Alzheimer’s. While those numbers seem alarming, the Alzheimer’s Association annual report predicts that those numbers will double by the year 2050 to one in every 33 seconds.
However, this disease is not just an American problem. It is found in every country throughout the world. Last year, the numbers indicated that around 47 million people have some form of dementia.
Ruth Drew, director of family and information services for the Alzheimer’s Association, explained why the number of cases is rising an alarming speed. She said, “What is driving these numbers is that there is no disease-modifying treatment, no prevention, and no cure. And while U.S. deaths from Alzheimer’s have doubled in the last 15 years, an increase of 89%, deaths from other major diseases have been declining.”
The number of people that dementia touches is vast and unsettling, and to put it in better perspective, this disease has become the No. 1 killing disease. Deaths caused by heart disease have dropped by 14 percent, HIV deaths by declined by 54 percent, stroke by 21 percent, and even prostate cancer went down by 9 percent.
According to Dr. Drew, the reason for the decline in other health related deaths is because there is not enough research. So much money has gone into finding a cure for heart disease, HIV and other disease-related deaths that they were able to find ways to reduce the risk or in some cases, they have discovered a cure.
So why can’t they do something about Alzheimer’s disease?
Harvard professor of neurology Rudy Tanzi, who is also the head of MassGeneral’s Genetics and Aging Research Unit, places the blame on lack of money. “We are a knowledge-rich yet budget-constrained field. We have many clues about how to stop Alzheimer’s, especially from recent genetic studies, but insufficient funds to explore how.”
While there is a lack of money going into research, another problem may result from the multitude of people with dementia. Experts believe that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may be the disease that breaks the Medicare/Medicaid system. In 2017, they estimate that it takes around $259 billion to care for the people who have Alzheimer’s and other dementia problems.
Many family members keep their loved ones at home to make sure they are well cared for and have everything they need. There are so many horror stories about nursing homes and the way the elderly are treated, that many refuse to send their loved ones to that kind of institution.
Rudy Tanzi said, “Already, Alzheimer’s consumes one in every five Medicare/Medicaid dollars. With 71 million baby boomers headed toward risk age, this will go to one in three, perhaps in the next decade, at which point, Alzheimer’s will single-handedly collapse Medicare/Medicaid.”
According to Dr. Drew, “It will also impact the work force and our economy. Because every family affected will be making caregiving choices they will have at home. They will be absent more for doctor visits… and other caregiving duties.”
Is Alzheimer’s disease heredity or does it have more to do with the food we eat? There are many theories on what causes dementia in the first place and ways to prevent it from happening.
Generations ago, people lived off the land and meals were made from scratch. That has all changed with today’s society. Everyone wants fast and easy to prepare meals, so they buy processed food.
The way we grow food has changed dramatically over the years. The use of pesticides, herbicides and other agents, taint the food we consume. Our meat and fish are treated and injected with growth hormones, antibiotics and a host of other synthetic chemicals. These chemicals do not leave their body when they die or as they grow. It continues to pass into the people who consume it.
The foods linked to memory loss are white bread, white flour, white rice, pasta, sugar, mozzarella sticks, American and pasteurized cheese, sausages, bacon, processed meats and lunch meat. Also on the list is margarine and microwave popcorn.
Studies recommend staying away from processed foods and choosing organic whenever possible is the best choice when it comes to food and staying healthy.
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