Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the fifth-leading cause of death for Americans over 65.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the US National Institute of Health, between 2000 and 2019, deaths from stroke, heart disease, and HIV decreased. In contrast, reported deaths from AD increased by more than 145%.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports, “Those living in rural America are more likely to develop the disease, less likely to receive an early diagnosis, and more likely to encounter barriers when seeking assistance.”
People like Julie Wilson, Executive Director at Care Partners of Cook County, are working with the Association to help its efforts to bring increased local awareness of AD, treatment options, and resources for help.
Wilson pointed out that there are no assisted living facilities in Cook County and no indication that there might be any in the foreseeable future. The nearest healthcare specialists in the dementia arena are in Duluth, as is an office of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Among the hopeful things Wilson sees is that Care Partners is building a community that supports the caregivers of patients with AD and other dementias.
Minnesota had 99,000 AD cases in 2020. It is projected to have 120,000 by 2025, an increase of over 21%
Dementia is a word that describes a loss of memory and other thinking abilities that interfere with a person’s daily life and covers several medical conditions. AD is one of those, and it causes 60-80% of all dementia cases.
Although the diagnosis and treatment of AD and its resulting dementia have improved in recent years, there is still much to do. Care Partners of Cook County plans to participate in a nationwide effort to raise awareness, encourage those in our community who are impacted by dementia, and support the Alzheimer’s Association’s education and research efforts.
The Walk To End Alzheimer’s will be held in Grand Portage and Duluth/ Superior Saturday, September 9. In Grand Marais, Saturday, September 23. The Alzheimer’s Association website lists ten warning signs for the disease, including memory loss that disrupts daily life. It adds that typical age-related changes that lead to forgetting names and appointments but remembering them later are relatively routine.
There is a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) that causes changes severe enough to be noticed by the person affected, their family, or friends. It can be an early stage of AD, and 12% to 18% of those over 60 are affected by MCI. Not all will develop dementia, but 10% to 15% of those affected will develop dementia each year. The annual Medicare physical usually has a review of the cognitive condition of the patient.
Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to managing AD, so people are encouraged, at any age, to discuss any symptoms of cognitive impairment with a medical professional. Look for further details about the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in future editions of the Northshore Journal. For Cook County-specific information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://act.alz.org/goto/grandmarais