Much more Alzheimer's research is needed

May 07, 2013

There is no doubt that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are devastating disorders, deeply affecting those who are diagnosed with such illnesses and the loved ones who care for them.

The problem is a growing one in our society. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease today, and that number is expected to grow to more than 7.1 million by the year 2025. Currently, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and in 2013, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost $203 billion in health care — another number that is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

With such staggering statistics in mind, the recent announcement from the White House unveiling the $100 million BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative is a first step in providing scientists with the support needed to increase our understanding of the brain and develop new and better treatments for disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.

It is encouraging to see the issue garnering attention from our nation’s government, but it is even more encouraging seeing what is being done to help those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia improve and maintain their quality of life.

Every year, Haywood County has a Walk to End Alzheimer’s (this year it is Sept. 14 at Lake Junaluska), and at the Senior Resource Center in Waynesville there are a number of ongoing workshops, forums and activities to help those with dementia and their caregivers, including the monthly Memory Café.

The Memory Café is for people with early onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. It meets from 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Monday of every month at the Senior Resource Center at 81 Elmwood Way in Waynesville. The Senior Resource Center also offers brain bikes, laughter yoga, Project Lifesavers and other equipment and programs for seniors.

Coming up is an Alzheimer’s Information Forum at 8 a.m. Thursday, June 13 at Western North Carolina University, which will cover information on Alzheimer’s and dementia, support and resources available and a question and answer session.

While we’re waiting for a cure for Alzheimer’s, it is good to know there is support and resources available right here in Haywood County to help.