June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. Alzheimer’s disease affects 47 million people worldwide and 5 million Americans. Age is the greatest risk factor for developing the disease and 2/3 of American’s with Alzheimer’s are women. The epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease is growing significantly. Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops dementia. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death and is the only cause of death in the top 10 that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed. The cost of Alzheimer’s is staggering. In 2015, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost the nation $226 billion; but without an effective therapy to prevent or slow the disease, the costs will be $1.1 trillion by 2050.
Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be “an old person’s disease” and while it is true that age is the greatest risk factor for developing the disease, another risk factor is putting the military at increased risk of developing dementia. While the aging Veteran population is at risk for developing dementia by fact that they are getting older, Servicemembers and young Veterans are also at increased risk. The effects of modern war, impact of head injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other related factors war related factors such as chemical exposures, lifestyle risks and chronic medical conditions can contribute to the increased risk over their lifetime.
Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association published a special issue in June 2014 focusing on research compiled on military risk factors for dementia. The outcome of modern military conflicts has focused on brain injury and brain health due to the impact of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan and the quarter million cases of mild traumatic brain injury since 2000. Based on this research conducted, there is a connection between TBI, PTSD, other military-related factors and risk of cognitive decline and dementia. However, the exact connection is still being researched.
The Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research and is leading the charge to make Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementia’s a national priority. The first ever U.S. National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s disease has a goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. Without intervention, the number of people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias is expected to triple to 15 million by 2050 and with surging Veteran population that number may be even higher.
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to SUPPORT ALL THOSE FACING ALZHEIMER’S