Thursday, February 2, 2012

Six Myths About Alzheimer's Disease

Guest blogger Michael Ellenbogen was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at a young age and first displayed symptoms at age 39. In this post, he dispels some common myths about the disease.

1) Only older people get Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

This disease not only impacts young people, but it usually creates more issues when someone young has it. They refer to people under the age of 65 as having Young Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, or YOAD. The youngest on record is 24 years old.

2) Alzheimer’s is just another stage of becoming old

Although we often seem to experience memory decline as we grow older, it is not inevitable with aging. Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes progressive decline in memory and cognitive ability.

3) Drugs extend the life for people with Alzheimer’s.

As of today, there is no way to prevent or slow the progression of this debilitating disease. Most will die in 8 to 10 years from when they are diagnosed.

4) You can take a test to determine if you have Alzheimer’s

Fact: The only way to tell if someone definitely has AD is to take a sample of brain tissue after death. The risks are very high in order to do this test while still alive.

5) Most people with cognitive decline are diagnosed with AD

The sad part is that there may be as much as 80% of people with AD that do not even have a diagnosis. While some doctors know, they do not want to tell the patient, because they feel it would not help the prognosis. Then there are doctors that do not want to label someone young with this classification. All this leads to more problems for the patient and family.

6) Alzheimer’s researchers receive equal funding

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death. In 1998, it was the 12th leading cause of death. From 2000 to 2008, the number of Americans who died from Alzheimer’s disease increased 66%, while deaths from other diseases decreased -breast cancer by 3%; prostate cancer by 8%; heart disease by 13%; stroke 20%; and HIV by 29%. Yet we spend for cancer 18.7%, heart disease 14%, HIV 9.9%, and Alzheimer's Disease only gets 1.45% out of a $31 billion budget. The total money allocated by the National Institutes of Health for these selected diseases is $13.6 billion, which leaves $17.4 billion that is not accounted for. So the answer is that it is way underfunded.

You can read more about Michael at

No comments: