Dealing with Alzheimer's

Lois Sizemore lives with Alzheimer's every day. She doesn't have it, but her husband was diagnosed with it 10 years ago. Now, for the most part, he doesn't recognize her.

"One time not too long ago there was a spark like he possibly recognized me," Sizemore told us. "He got a big grin and leaned over and gave me a kiss. He knew me for possibly a few seconds."

She was one of the people who attended this teleconference at Washington State Community College, discussing not just Alzheimer's, but the problems grieving family members have coping with its victims.

While Alzheimer's is seen as a disease affecting the aging, younger people are affected by it as well, and that's important with the baby boom generation aging as well.

"Because of the population getting older," says Mechelle Adams, Program Director for the Buckeye Hills Area Agency on Aging, "we're seeing a lot more people being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and they're being diagnosed earlier. We see a real trend starting."

Lois' husband is a resident in a Marietta nursing home, but while she's pleased with the care he's getting, she continues to occasionally keep watch over him.

"You need to know what they're doing for the patient," Sizemore explains. "I go help with some of his meals. You need to keep an eye on things, and be informed there as well as anything else."

Sizemore is part of an Alzheimer's support group, which meets the second Saturday of each month at Marietta's O’Neill Center.

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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


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