Almost 6 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s disease, which means most Americans know someone suffering from dementia. In Kentucky, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death and the Commonwealth as a whole is ranked 18th for most Alzheimer’s deaths in the country.
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is fatal and involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Alzheimer’s disease-related deaths have increased over the past 16 years in every race, sex and ethnicity category, and will most likely continue to increase as the population continues to age.
“Early diagnosis is key to helping people and their families cope with loss of memory, navigate the healthcare system, and plan for their care in the future,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.
Helene French, community outreach coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Kentucky/Southern Indiana Chapter, said if someone thinks they are showing early signs of dementia then the first thing they need to do is to talk with family members or friends to see if they are noticing any changes and then to also discuss their changes with a doctor. The doctor will determine if any testing needs to be done.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers educational programs online and in-person. They also offer local support groups, a 24-7 helpline and a website with a wealth of information at www.alz.org.
French said the association offers emotional support and care consultants to help families along this journey. Their services are free.
Earlier this month, president Donald Trump signed into law Kentucky Congressman Brett Guthrie’s Alzheimer’s bill.
The legislation is called the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act. It’s designed to create a public health infrastructure to support prevention, treatment and care for patients with Alzheimer’s and related neurological diseases.
“Alzheimer’s disease is devastating on multiple levels — for the person who suffers with it, and for the families and friends who must help their loved ones fight this terrible disease,” Guthrie said. “I was proud to introduce the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act to address this need. I want to thank the many advocates in Kentucky and the around the country who are fighting Alzheimer’s every day, my fellow members of Congress and the Senate for supporting this bill, and President Trump for signing the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act into law. I look forward to seeing this bill implemented, and I will continue to support Alzheimer’s research in Congress.”