While most people are aware of Alzheimer’s Disease, its prevalence and seriousness may not be commonly understood. In fact, there’s much more to this disease than just old age and forgetfulness.
For starters, Alzheimer’s touches millions of American homes and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Sadly, every 65 seconds someone new develops the disease.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, which is a general term for memory loss and the loss of other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s makes up between 60 to 80 percent of all known cases of dementia.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a normal part of aging. While the greatest risk factor for the disease is increasing age – the vast majority of people with Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65 – it’s not just a disease of old people. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 200,000 Americans under age 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s. That means people in their 40s and 50s, who are often in the thrust of their careers and family lives.
While indeed causing problems with memory, Alzheimer’s also affects judgement, decision making, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and progress over time. In early stages, forgetfulness and memory loss are mild. For example, forgotten names, misplaced objects and confusion about simple tasks.
In advanced stages, however, people living with Alzheimer’s can lose the ability to have conversations or to respond appropriately to their surroundings. This can lead to the inability to take care of oneself.
Since Alzheimer’s is a brain disease and the brain affects everything, symptoms can escalate to affect basic living functions, such as the ability to cough, swallow and eventually breathe. It’s estimated that people with Alzheimer’s live an average of just eight years after their symptoms are first discovered.
Alzheimer’s is a widespread and serious issue. Although there is currently no cure, treatments for symptoms are readily available and critical research is ongoing. The key is to plan early and well for yourself and your loved ones. Ideally, you will have created estate planning before you are ever diagnosed. If you find yourself facing a diagnosis, however, do not wait to complete your estate planning. In Florida, to complete your estate planning, you must have the capacity to do so.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an unusual loss of memory or related change, do not wait to investigate. There are comprehensive medical evaluations available with physicians who specialize in Alzheimer’s disease.
Remember, you are not alone. There is a worldwide effort behind you that’s fighting to find ways to better treat Alzheimer’s and prevent it from spreading. Whether you need help early or later, we are your Tampa Bay law firm here to help you. Do not wait to contact us with your questions.