“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”- Proverbs 19:20-21
First and foremost…thank you Ms. Smith for the wonderful donation to the Runnin’ Til I’m Purple event! I appreciate every single donation very much and please know that both SeniorAge and the Alzheimer’s Association do AMAZING things in helping folks with dementia and in finding a cure some sweet day! Thank you sooooooo much!
Today’s topic: The amazing 2022 Facts and Figures Report from the Alzheimer’s Association. Here it is:
There is a month of posts’ worth of topics here, but I just don’t have it in me to dwell. I will instead keep pressing every button I can find fighting for a cure and better treatments. Here are some takeaways from the F&F report, in my shorthand:
- Covid has exacerbated nearly every factor that leads to developing dementia:
- Eating non-healthy food
- Lethargy instead of exercise (The clothing mullet of dress clothes on top and party PJs below)
- Blood pressure going up
- Blood sugar going up
- Falls in the home (perhaps? More clutter and more time to fall…)
- Poor sleep patterns (“I’m only watching one more episode of Squid Games/Yellowstone/Ozarks/fill in the blank, then I will sleep”), etc.
- Loneliness and lack of social interaction
- Poor hygiene
- Smoking and drinking, I expect, boomed during Covid. Neither help and both are shown to enhance risk.
- Summary: Covid fed dementia risk factors like a zookeeper feeds a hippo watermelons!!! Did these things CAUSE it? Not enough info. However, they most assuredly pushed it along. Despite the fact that there was a 17% increase in deaths from our community, the number of people with the disease increased…a bunch.
- This one is a rerun, but is worth repeating: 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. (and those both really stink!) “Deaths from Alzheimer’s have more than doubled between 2000 and 2019, while those from heart disease — the leading cause of death — have decreased. At age 70, seniors living with Alzheimer’s are twice as likely to die before age 80 than those who do not have the disease.”
- Got some extra money? We’ll want that soon. “In 2022, Alzheimer’s and other dementia will cost the nation $321 billion. By 2050, these costs could reach nearly $1 trillion.” I realize we throw trillions around these days, but it is a LOT of money! Here is an illustration (ignore the stimulus part if you want): (LINK)
- Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans are familiar with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can be an early stage of Alzheimer’s. The association put out this report about MCI: VERY HELPFUL! This is my imperfect way of explaining MCI that I offered my co-workers: “Think of it as pre-diabetic, for diabetes. (sort of). Think of it like a Tornado Watch…the conditions are right for the developing of a brain tornado. Think of it like a small, white bird that’s feet may be webbed…or are starting to look webbed. It says Quaaaa___ when it speaks and water sort of is starting to fall off its back. The science is still out on MCI, but know that if you or someone you know has any of the warning signs of dementia, (Link) (My similar link) talk to your doctor. That day. The earlier you catch the signs, the better your odds are. My mom (and, more so, me and my sibs) didn’t treat early signs seriously enough. Better explained by the report: “For the purposes of this Special Report, the term MCI refers to “syndromic” MCI of unknown cause or due to causes other than the brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The term MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease is used to describe MCI with the presence of Alzheimer’s disease-related biomarkers. Individuals with MCI may have a higher risk of developing dementia. Studies estimate that 10% to 15% of individuals with MCI go on to develop dementia each year. About one-third of people with MCI develop dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease within five years. However, some individuals with MCI revert to normal cognition or do not have additional cognitive decline.”
- “90% of physicians say it’s important to diagnose MCI due to Alzheimer’s, but over half say they are not fully comfortable diagnosing it.” Why? Because the treatment options SEEM minimal and the prognosis seems bad. That is no excuse, but that is their reason, in many cases. However, as we learn more and more about prevention, we need to be ready. I am following closely and hope to get word very soon on a biomarker test from a blood draw that will tell the odds of developing dementia perhaps decades before the pathology starts to dig its ugly claws in. There would, in theory, still be time to fight for prevention. That is HUGE! HUGE! Or as one politician calls it, YUGE!
- How many have Alzheimer’s? LOTS. 🙁 Here is the list: “An estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in 2022. Seventy-three percent are age 75 or older. About 1 in 9 age 65 and older (10.7%) has Alzheimer’s. Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. Older Black Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older Whites. Older Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older Whites.” That isn’t factoring in how many died of Covid and, may not factor in how many had Covid make matters worse in developing the disease. I am sure it is considered, but science isn’t completely sure on this one….
- “As the number of older Americans grows rapidly, so too will the number of new and existing cases of Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s may grow to a projected 12.7 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure Alzheimer’s disease.” That is about the same number of people in Russia’s largest city, Moscow, and much bigger than NYC.
- “People age 65 and older survive an average of four to eight years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, yet some live as long as 20 years with Alzheimer’s. This reflects the slow, uncertain progression of the disease.” Mom has had the disease since at least 2009. She is pushing the average back…but most of the Sweet 17 were right in line with it. 🙁
- At least we have enough medical help to fight these trends! Right? Not funny, even a little…”The United States will have to nearly triple the number of geriatricians to effectively care for the number of people projected to have Alzheimer’s in 2050. Few care professionals specialize in geriatrics:Only 12% of nurse practitioners have special expertise in gerontological care. Less than 1% of registered nurses, physician assistants and pharmacists identify themselves as specializing in geriatrics. Only 4% of social workers have formal certification in geriatric social work. The demand for direct care workers (roles such as nurses aides and home health aides) is projected to grow by more than 40% between 2016 and 2026, while their availability is expected to decline.
These numbers, straight from the quick facts section of the Facts and Figures, look grim. I get it. I feel every stat personally. I mean, there is no cure…why not just eat, drink and be merry???
Why not despair?
Come on, Blog Boy..shoot it straight.
……..I always do.
- There are MANY clinical studies and trials, at various stages of investigation. MORE THAN EVER BEFORE! Aducanumab (Aduhelm) cleared the FDA and, under certain circumstances may be used to clear some of the telltale signs of the disease and POTENTIALLY help. There are many more, similar ideas. Want to join me in a bevy of trials and studies? OK…maybe not a bevy, but some? Here is the link to Trial Match: LINK
- There are 33 ADRCs and many other facilities working very hard to learn and understand this mess and fix it. I have been to 3 of them for studies and will be visiting more. They are much smarter than me. I realize that doesn’t necessarily, in and of itself, mean much to the cost of Bubble Tea in Tuscaloosa, but trust me…they are brilliant!
- The younger two generation, despite the often terrible in incorrectly negative portrayal of them, cares about seniors! VERY much. So much so that they are, in many cases, delaying their career to care for them. Here is one look at that.
- We are living longer which partially points to more cases. (Remember, age is the most telling predictor of dementia. While a 20 year old CAN get it, a 100 year old is much more likely.
- As many as 60% of cases, if we can catch them super early, can be prevented.
- Heaven awaits believers too…
Keep your head up folks. Read these and be informed, then join me in getting to work. The numbers are ugly, but all we need is one: a cure.
Update: My sister talked to our wonderful Hospice nurse Ruth this week about mom. She is a sweet woman with a wonderful heart. She is very experienced in the topic. She has been in the trenches for a long time. She said that mom is declining more quickly. No timeline because that is above her pay grade, but she has traveled this path many times and recognizes the twigs and stones and the like. It has been a long 13 years. Mom is a fighter but the disease is stronger than even her…and that’s a fact. 🙁
A couple of opportunities for me to share in the media this week. Thank you again, KY3 and The St. Louis Post Dispatch (and Jacob at the Alzheimer’s Association) :
(This may be behind a pay wall now or in the future)