Precious Memories

Turning to health news, it’s a sad fact that Alzheimer's is the fourth leading cause of death among the elderly, but although there is no cure there is treatment that can slow down the disease.

Wednesday, local health agencies are offering free memory screening.

Two years ago, Bernice Higgins found out her husband of 24 years had dementia, similar to Alzheimer's, but Bernice says she is thankful 80-year-old Samuel was tested for the incurable disease, and health officials couldn't agree more.

“The medicines that are available do not cure the disease, but they do have some effect in slowing down the progression,” says Judy.

Here are some symptoms of Alzheimer's:

  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Personality or behavioral change
  • Problems with speech, reading or writing skills
  • Problems completing daily activities

Bernice says memory testing not only gives you answers, but a network of support.

Sponsored by Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and the Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Wednesday’s screening will be in Wakulla County at the Senior Citizens Center. Then, September 20 there will be another screening at the Tallahassee Senior Citizens Center.

For more information on future screenings, call 850-561-6869. Extended Web Coverage

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an age-related and irreversible brain disorder that occurs gradually and results in memory loss, behavior and personality changes, and a decline in thinking abilities.

  • These losses are related to the breakdown of the connections between nerve cells in the brain and the eventual death of many of these cells.

  • On average, patients with AD live for 8 to 10 years after they are diagnosed with the disease.

  • AD advances progressively, from mild forgetfulness to a severe loss of mental function.

  • Although the risk of developing AD increases with age, AD and dementia symptoms are not a part of normal aging.

Impact of AD

  • AD is the most common cause of dementia among people age 65 and older.

  • Scientists estimate that up to four million people currently suffer with the disease, and the prevalence (the number of people with the disease at any one time) doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.

  • A recent study estimated that the annual cost of caring for one AD patient is $18,408 for a patient with mild AD, $30,096 for a patient with moderate AD, and $36,132 for a patient with severe AD.

  • The annual national direct and indirect costs of caring for AD patients are estimated to be as much as $100 billion.

Types of AD

  • Two types of Alzheimer’s disease exist: familial AD (FAD), which follows a certain inheritance pattern, and sporadic AD, where no obvious inheritance pattern is seen.

  • AD is further described as early-onset (occurring in people younger than 65) or late-onset (occurring in those 65 and older).

  • Early-onset AD is rare (about 5 to 10 percent of cases) and generally affects people aged 30 to 60. Some forms of early-onset AD are inherited and run in families.

Source: Web Reports