According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease. Almost two thirds of those are women. Not only is Alzheimer’s disease the sixth leading cause of death in the country, but it also cannot currently be prevented, cured or slowed. With the U.S. population aging, it is estimated that by 2025 the number of people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s will surpass 7 million. By 2050, the number could reach 16 million.
About 12 percent of Kansans currently have the disease or related dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in Kansas, mirroring the national statistic.
“Alzheimer’s disease is predictable,” said Erin Yelland, assistant professor in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, who is also a K-State Research and Extension adult development and aging specialist. “We know certain issues are going to come up, and we know the process of decline that you might be experiencing. By educating yourself, you can understand what might be happening, but more importantly, your family members are going to understand what they are going to experience while you’re battling this disease.”
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, Yelland said about 90 percent of what is now known about the disease has been discovered in the last 15 years. Alzheimer’s is a complicated disease. Some of the risk factors that are backed by research include:
- age (most of the people who get it are over age 60);
- familial history, especially if a parent, brother or sister has the disease; and
- the presence of a rare gene called Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (FAD).
Dr. Yelland is conducting “10 Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease” training for Extension Agents across Kansas to help increase the knowledge base and equip people with tools to assist an aging population in Kansas. This 90 minute program, along with additional information about Alzheimer’s Disease, will soon be available in Johnson County. To learn more, or to schedule a 90 minute “10 Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease” program for your company or organization, contact Valeria Edwards, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, at 913-715-7000 or Valeria.Edwards@jocogov.org.