NYT: The Age of Alzheimer’s, by Sandra Day O’Connor

Former Supreme Court Justice and Family Caregiver Sandra Day O’Connor teamed up with Nobel Prize in Medicine winner Stanley Prusiner and gerontologist Ken Dychtwald to write this editorial in The New York Times last week. Part policy advice, part wake up call, this is an interesting article for anyone to read-SP.

Published: October 27, 2010

Sandra Day O-Conner, Bush 43 & John O'Conner
Sandra Day & John J. O'Connor with President Bush in 2004. John O'Connor died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease in 2009. Justice O’Connor cited the need to care for her ailing husband as one reason she decided to retire in 2005.
OUR government is ignoring what is likely to become the single greatest threat to the health of Americans: Alzheimer’s disease, an illness that is 100 percent incurable and 100 percent fatal. It attacks rich and poor, white-collar and blue, and women and men, without regard to party. A degenerative disease, it steadily robs its victims of memory, judgment and dignity, leaves them unable to care for themselves and destroys their brain and their identity — often depleting their caregivers and families both emotionally and financially.

Starting on Jan. 1, our 79-million-strong baby boom generation will be turning 65 at the rate of one every eight seconds. That means more than 10,000 people per day, or more than four million per year, for the next 19 years facing an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Although the symptoms of this disease and other forms of dementia seldom appear before middle age, the likelihood of their appearance doubles every five years after age 65. Among people over 85 (the fastest-growing segment of the American population), dementia afflicts one in two. It is estimated that 13.5 million Americans will be stricken with Alzheimer’s by 2050 — up from five

Read the whole Op-Ed piece at The New York Times online.

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