(RxWiki News) Dementia is not a normal part of aging, but the risk of issues like memory loss does increase with age. As the population ages, many are pushing for more awareness of conditions related to memory loss.
November is being recognized across the country as National Alzheimer's Awareness Month.
Organizers, including the Alzheimer's Association, have stressed the need for understanding, support and care of Alzheimer's patients as their numbers grow.
"Talk to a doctor if memory loss is interfering with daily life."
Dementia is a term used for the loss of cognitive abilities such as memory, language and behavior functions. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia and affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Even if Alzheimer's doesn't affect you or a loved one directly, the condition has a big impact on the US economy. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's will cost the US an estimated $203 billion in 2013. This amount is expected to increase steadily to $1.2 trillion by the year 2050.
"The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias will grow as the US population age 65 and older continues to increase," explained the Alzheimer's Association. "By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from the 5 million age 65 and older currently affected."
And by 2050, an estimated 13.8 million people, age 65 or older, are expected to have the disease unless new progress is made and methods are developed to help prevent or slow the disease.
Both funding and participation are needed to support the research that may hopefully lessen the impact of Alzheimer's. Dementia patients, non-patients and caregivers are all needed as subjects in research.
"Through clinical trials, researchers test new ways to detect, treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia," reported the Alzheimer's Association. "Recruiting and retaining clinical trial participants is now the greatest obstacle, other than funding, to developing the next generation of Alzheimer's treatments."
In an interview with dailyRx News, Jim McAleer, MPA, President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association Orange County Chapter also stressed the need for trial participants and further research.
"People worried about themselves or their loved one and memory should consider participating in a clinical trial. Without research, we wont eradicate this disease," said McAleer.
During the awareness month, another group besides Alzheimer's patients is receiving attention and support: the people who care for these patients. According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are over 15 million Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers in the US.
These caregivers gave an estimated 17.5 billion unpaid hours of care to dementia patients in 2012. The emotional and financial role of these caregivers is an important one in supporting the lives of Alzheimer's patients.
"The Alzheimer's Association in every area has resources and information to help caregivers including support groups, a 24/7 Helpline, caregiver education and so much more," McAleer told dailyRx News.