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Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain. It is a slowly progressive form of dementia that impairs intellectual function, most notably memory, judgment, decision-making, orientation to physical surroundings, physical movement and language. It can also cause behavioral changes. There is currently no known cure.
More than 4.5 million Americans are believed to have Alzheimer’s disease and that number is increasing sharply.
Approximately 5 % of Americans between the ages of 65 –74 have the disease.
Nearly half of all seniors 85 years and older suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia among people age 65 and older.
On average, people with Alzheimer’s disease live for 8-10 years after they are diagnosed. They can live as long as 20 years, but it always ends in death.
Alzheimer’s disease is the 4th leading cause of death among adults
More than half of Alzheimer’s patients receive care at home. Nearly 75% of that care is provided by family and friends. Most of the remaining care is paid for out-of-pocket by the families.
The typical primary family caregiver is a woman in her 70’s who herself suffers from two chronic health problems.
The stress of caregiving affects health—one third of these family caregivers will die before the person with Alzheimer’s for whom they are caring.
The care of an Alzheimer’s patient, viewed as custodial care, is not covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans.
Sources: 2005 Met Life Market Survey, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center, World Health Organization, National Center for Health Statistics, National