One in Eight Families Affected by Alzheimer’s

One in Eight Families Affected by Alzheimer’s

When a parent or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s),  the entire family experiences the disease. One (1) in eight (8) older adults has Alzheimer’s. That means one in eight families are going to mourn the loss of their loved one over a prolonged period of time. They grieve daily because their loved one is, at the same time, gone and yet standing or sitting in front of them.

African Americans and Latinos are more likely to have Alzheimer’s for a variety of reasons that are not fully known. However,unfortunately they are less likely to be diagnosed, and even whenthey are diagnosed, it’s likely to be at a later stage of the disease. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 5th cause among those age 65 and older.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of cases. In fact, the most outstanding sign of Alzheimer’s is dementia. Its characteristics include difficulty remembering names and recent events.  Lack of interest and depression also often occur early. Later symptoms include poor  judgment, confusion, behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking, and as the disease advances, even wandering and getting lost.

It’s important to know, however, that everyone with dementia does not have Alzheimer’s.

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In addition to the risk factors listed here, certain health conditions also increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias including high blood pressure and diabetes, which are more common in African American and Latino communities. It is crucial to remember that ‘risk factors’ are not causes – but things that increase a person’s risk, or chances, of developing a specific disease.
Risk Factors for Dementia Include:
     – Age
     – Gender
     – Race/Ethnicity
     – Lifestyle
     – Psychological Well-Being
     – Educational Level

Much is still unknown about Alzheimer’s. In fact, researchaboutits symptoms, causes, risk factors and possible treatments has only gained serious attention in the last 30 years.

What do we know?

Ø 80% of care provided at home is delivered by family caregivers.

o   In 2011, 15.2 million family members and friends provided 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

o   More than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers report that  the emotional stress of caregiving is high or very high, and one-third of them report symptoms of depression.

o   There are resources and support available for caregivers at all stages of  care –


Ø Alzheimer’s is not a ‘normal’ part of aging. (For more about ‘normal aging’ see below).


Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias

Normal Aging

Poor judgment and decision making Making a bad decision once in a while
Inability to manage a budget Missing a monthly payment
Losing track of the date or the season Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
Difficulty having a conversation Sometimes forgetting which word to use
Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them Losing things from time to time

Ø There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of dementia:

·         Minimize your risks for cardiovascular disease

·         Follow a diet that’s low in saturated fats and rich in vegetables

·        Keep your blood pressure normal, and with treatment if it’s high

·         Control your diabetes

·         Stay socially active

·         Keep your mental activity high

·         Have your, or your loved one’s memory screened. Knowledge is power, and you may or may nothave Alzheimer’s. Memory issues can be related to many other medical conditions. You won’t know if you don’t go.

o   Participate in National Memory Day – November 13, 2012

o   Community Memory Screenings are also available year round (see the link below for more information and to find a site near you)

There is more information about Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and Caregiving in our (Health Power’s) Mental Health Channel, and Aging Channel.

The article on Alzheimer’s was based on the sources below. 

Alzheimer’s Association, 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Volume 8, Issue 2. (

Alzheimer’s Association. 2012 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. March 2012; 8:131–168.

HHS Office of Minority Health (2007). Some Minorities See Alzheimer’s Symptoms as Natural Part of Aging.

National Memory Screening:

Race, Ethnicity, and Alzheimer’s Disease: Fact Sheet (2011, March). Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. Retrieved from:

Resources on Normal Aging

Area Agency on Aging: What is Normal Aging?


National Council on Aging: Healthy Aging: Fact Sheet


Office of Women’s Health: Healthy Aging for Women


WebMD: Health Aging, Normal Aging


WebMD: Is there Normal Aging?