Dementia — the hidden epidemic — will be the focus of a special program at noon Saturday, June 16, at the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1055 Kinoole St. in Hilo.
The American Society on Aging will present a video developed at its 2011 General Conference Session. The video, “We Must Stop Alzheimer’s by 2020,” presents startling information, said program coordinator Chris Ridley.
Dr. Kevin Kurohara will provide some additional information and be available for questions afterwards.
Dementia is a degenerative neurological disease which is incurable and fatal, rendering a person unable to care for himself/herself. It depletes family members emotionally and financially, yet there is hardly any funding to research this disease.
In America, more than 5.4 million people are presently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death. Neurological diseases cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed down.
Dr. Ken Dychtwald, founder and president of Age Wave, speaks in the video of the “Longevity Revolution” caused by the progressive creation of antibiotics in the 1920s, the polio vaccine in the 1950s, the increase in management of chronic diseases and the increase of medications, which have resulted in “more old people.”
In 1900, the average age of death was 47 years, whereas in 2000, the average age of death was 78 years.
Dychtwald notes that soon a large portion of the population will be in the 55-plus population.
He says our single greatest challenge will be that one in every two 85-plus-year-olds will have dementia.
In the years 2000-2020, There will not be enough resources to deal with this disease, and Dychtwald calls for research to “wipe the disease out!”
In the video, Meryl Comer, CEO and president of the Goeffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative, presents how caregivers hide the disease, bearing the brunt of the consequences while carefully protecting the dignity of the loved one.
Harry John, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, speaks clearly on the crisis. John notes that our country spends $6 billion on cancer research yearly, $4 billion on heart research yearly and $3 billion on HIV research yearly, whereas we only spend $500 million on dementia. Results from this include decrease in deaths of a negative 3-8 percent in cancer, a negative 13 to 20 percent in cardiovascular deaths, a negative 29 percent in HIV deaths and an increase of a positive 66 percent in deaths from dementia.
And these figures do not reflect the huge number of the undiagnosed population with dementia.
“Now is the time to act! Go to www.alz.org. Hit the tab that says Advocate or Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Help in any way you feel comfortable,” said Ridley. “Help on the micro level by helping someone you know who is forgetful. Help on the macro level by advocating for those inflicted by speaking to our politicians. Join our Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, Oct. 6.”
Everyone is invited to watch the video and hear from Kurohara. Call Ridley at 443-7360 to reserve your seat.