Alzheimer's disease is plaguing the public psyche in two ways -- both as a global economic disaster waiting to happen and up close and personal as the insidious stalker in the room that anyone over 40 should fear. The pervasive, destructive, costly effects of this debilitating disease become even more profound as Baby Boomers age; doubling every five years after age 65.
Fear this intruder if you value your brain: your intellect, abstract thinking, the ability to communicate, your independence and dignity. According to researchers, the creep of entrapment begins 10 to 20 years before revealing itself through more obvious outward symptoms, eventually depriving not only an individual, but their family, of their future. The final insult- life ends with a final act of forgetting: the brain simply forgets how to breathe. Alzheimer's disease affects as many as five million Americans and many millions more worldwide; it is, without any doubt, a devastating force in our aging planet.
Women are particularly affected by Alzheimer's disease -- almost two-thirds of patients are women. Medical research has been notoriously slow in digging deeply into gender differences, but as has been shown with heart disease, there are real and significant differences between men and women in how a disease presents, how it is diagnosed and how it is treated. The gender disparity with Alzheimer's may be due in part to women's longer lifespan, but current mild cognitive impairment (MCI) research suggests that men and women may differ in how the disease affects them.
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