Alarming numbers came out of the latest report from the Alzheimer’s Association on Tuesday.
If there’s no breakthrough in research, it’s estimated that by the year 2050, the number of Americans with the disease will more than double. That’s, in part, because of the baby boomer generation getting older.
“We’re right in the middle of the baby boomers aging. Because Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of aging, and people are living longer, we’re seeing more prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Sharon Brangman, Chair of Geriatrics at Upstate University Hospital.
Dr. Brangman has worked in geriatrics for 30 years. She said she’s seeing more and more young patients walk through her door.
Though the disease is more common in people who are 85 and older, those suffering from early onset can be in their 30s.
“Alzheimer’s disease is scary because it’s the unwinding of the adult that we all work to be. So it’s not just forgetting,” Dr. Brangman said.
Brangman said you’ll know you have Alzheimer’s if your forgetfulness starts to impact your daily life. For example, you may lose your keys, but if you forget what those keys are for, you should be alarmed. And it’s not just older Americans who need to be aware.
“If you have a brain, you need to be concerned about Alzheimer’s disease. Very rarely now does someone not know someone who is impacted or affected by Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Cathy James, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Central New York Chapter.
Not only is the disease deadly, but it’s costly for the families who need the care and the researchers still looking for a cure.
“This is a public health crisis…we need to get a handle on this. this disease has a tremendous financial toll on our healthcare system,” James said.
If early-onset Alzheimer’s runs in the family, some people may be more likely to get it. However, there are preventative options available. Exercise, eating healthy, and getting the right amount of sleep are recommended.