The Age of Alzheimer’s

by Nancy Wurtzel

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We are living in the “Age of Alzheimer’s.”  Much like the disease itself, the transition is slow and torturous.  If you review the staggering statistics, it becomes obvious the financial, emotional and societal toll of Alzheimer’s, and other progressive brain diseases, is mind-boggling.

What is even more mind-blowing is this: Alzheimer’s was discovered and identified more than a century ago, yet there is still no cure and no effective treatments.

No Cure or Treatments for Alzheimer’s

If this always-fatal disease was killing young people or children, would we have already solved it?  I think the answer is ‘absolutely.’  Instead, Alzheimer’s has languished in the shadows, while the numbers rise and the devastation continues.

Why?  Here is my viewpoint:

  • Alzheimer’s is widely seen as an old person’s disease (not true).
  • People view it as a normal progression of aging (it is not) and inevitable (it doesn’t have to be).
  • These brain diseases progress slowly (which means it doesn’t have the impact of tragic, sudden death).
  • There is a high degree of shame surrounding these diseases (people still talk about it in whispers).
  • Alzheimer’s has become institutionalized in world economies, especially in the U.S. (it is now a huge profit-making industry)

Why Isn’t Alzheimer’s a Top Priority?

The will to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and other progressive brain diseases has been mostly lacking by the general population.  There are so many horrific problems in the world that consume our daily headlines.  These pressing world problems push Alzheimer’s into the background.

Change only happens when enough pressure is applied.  This pressure must be generated at a grassroots level, along with more heated pressure from scientists/researchers, non-profit agencies, elected officials and societal leaders.  Yes, there is pressure, but it is not yet at that critical tipping point.

Do we have the will as a global community to tip this disease over the edge?  I hope so.

*Photo Purchased from Dreamstime

Nancy Wurtzel blogs at Dating Dementia about Alzheimer’s, dementia, aging, seniors, memory loss, death with dignity, end of life choices and caring for elderly parents
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