Annabelle Wransky, from the Alzheimer’s Association, often asks new acquaintances if they know of someone who has the disease. Sadly, the answer has never been no. Welcome to the world of one the cruelest diseases affecting the elderly. While dementia is the umbrella term, Alzheimer’s is the main player in a category that has over 100 variations. In the United States there are 5.7 million individuals living with this disease. In Richland County there are 2600 of our fellow community members affected. What is this disease?
Where did I put the car keys, where did I park, or occasionally forgetting a name is not the test, but most of the time just a manifestation of the aging process, however reoccurring lapses can be an indicator. The beginning stages may proceed without outward symptoms for many years. In the following mild stage, some changes can be observed, this is when most diagnosis occur. In the severe stage, many pronounced changes become apparent. Death follows. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and the only top ten cause, that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.
Who is at risk? Research suggest that Alzheimer’s is an equal opportunity disease among various ethnicities and social status. Some studies suggest educational attainment decreases the odds. The fact is that one of three elderly people will die from the disease, of which 2/3 are women.
What can be done? The first line of defense is to become educated. The Richland County Alzheimer’s Association offers an educational program that meets every other week covering a particular topic related to dementia. They are open to business, caregivers and anyone who is interested in learning more. The meetings are at the Area Agency on Aging building at 2131 Park Avenue West, Ontario. Questions can be directed to Tessa Clark, Program Coordinator at 419-522-5050.