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The Real Truth About Alzheimer’s Disease

With Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month coming to a close, we wanted to highlight one of the most important aspects of this past month: uncovering the truths about Alzheimer’s disease. It’s common knowledge that Alzheimer’s robs people of their ability to remember, but other fact about the disease typically remain misunderstood or unknown.

Throughout the month of June, the Alzheimer’s Association has been debunking harmful misconceptions that keep people from seeking a diagnosis and reduce access to needed resources and support services. They have encouraged people nationwide to uncover these truths and take action to help end a disease that affects so many individuals and their families.

Below are some of the real truths about Alzheimer’s:

Alzheimer’s disease is fatal – there are no survivors.

  • From 2000-2013, the number of Alzheimer’s deaths increased 71 percent, while deaths from other major diseases decreased.
  • 4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; by 2050, that number is projected to reach as many as 16 million.

Alzheimer’s disease is not normal aging.

  • It is a fatal and progressive disease that attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan and ultimately function.
  • Although age is the greatest known risk factor, Alzheimer’s is not an ordinary part of aging.

Alzheimer’s risks are higher among women, African-Americans and Hispanics.

  • African-Americans are about twice as likely as whites to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia
  • Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to develop the disease.
  • More than two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women.

Alzheimer’s can’t be prevented, but adopting healthy habits can reduce risk of cognitive decline and contribute to overall brain health.

  • Staying mentally active, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet benefits your body and your brain.

Alzheimer's is the most expensive disease in America.

  • It costs taxpayers $18.3 million each hour.
  • The total national cost is estimated at $236 billion in 2016.
  • As the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s grows, the total cost is projected to increase to more than $1 trillion in 2050.

Caregiving can become anyone’s reality.

  • In 2015, more than 15 million people provided 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer's and other dementias.
  • It is estimated that 250,000 children ages 8-18 provide help to someone with Alzheimer’s.

Help is available.

While it may seem like an overwhelming health crisis, there’s much being done to combat this public health issue. People across the globe are working tirelessly to advance research, care and support for those impacted. Help is available now through the Alzheimer’s Association by calling their 24/7 Helpline (1-800-272-3900) or visiting their website (

Let’s work together to eliminate this disease for the millions impacted every day. The end of Alzheimer’s starts with each one of us.

This post is written by Susan Spalding, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota.

Susan Spalding joined the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota as CEO in 2012. Under her leadership, the Alzheimer’s Association provided care and support to more than 40,000 people in 2015 and has reached more than 67,000 in outreach through community presentations and special events. Her previous work on the steering and executive committees of ACT on Alzheimer’s has increased awareness of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and helped 36 communities in Minnesota become dementia friendly. Public policy efforts under Spalding’s direction have advanced at the state and federal level with legislation for Alzheimer’s research and support being passed in 2015 in Minnesota, and the Alzheimer’s Association being granted the North Dakota Dementia Care Services Program which provides services and support across the state.

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