Association Urges Baby Boomers to Take Time to Face Alzheimer’s Disease
On New Year’s Day, many Americans will be celebrating in a new way. On January 1, 2011, the first of the “Baby Boomer” generation will begin turning 65 years old. In addition to retirement, Medicare and other considerations, the Alzheimer’s Association urges these new seniors to learn the risks and symptoms for developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
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Currently, about 6,000 people a day turn 65 years old. But beginning next year, nearly 10,000 a day will reach the age of retirement. Because advanced age is the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease, Harry Johns, the president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association fears a national crisis emerging.
“As the first wave of baby boomers begins to turn 65 next year…the nation is facing a crisis with an estimated one in eight boomers at risk for Alzheimer’s.” The time to act, he says, is now.
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Today, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disease of the neurons in the brain that lose connections with other nerve cells, causing memory failure, personality changes and problems in carrying out normal daily activities. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
To help raise awareness of the disease, the Alzheimer’s Association and Pfizer are collaborating on an initiative called “It’s Time to Face Alzheimer’s”. Families affected by Alzheimer’s disease are invited to share photos and experiences through the website, www.TimetoFaceAlz.org and voice support for the need to address the devastating disease.
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The culmination of the initiative will occur on New Year’s Day, when the two groups will feature a 55-foot long float in the 122nd Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, with the theme “Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories.” The float will ring a bell every 70 seconds to represent how frequently someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease.
The website also encourages Americans to write to their legislator to promote federal funding for Alzheimer’s research. While the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare services estimate that the annual cost of care for Alzheimer’s disease is $172 billion each year, only $469 million is invested in finding a cure or a treatment that will slow the progression of the disease.
“Much scientific progress has been made in recent years to help us better understand Alzheimer’s disease,” says Steve Romano MD, VP and Medical Affairs Head of the Primary Care Business Unit at Pfizer. “Through collaborations like this one, we hope to harness that progress and hope that innovative treatments can be delivered to patients and their families as soon as possible. The path forward is challenging but we are firmly committed.”