June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

June 22nd, 2016 by Attorney Roger Weinberg

Alzheimer’s disease is a crippling disease that kills brain cells and gradually erodes a person’s mental abilities, personality and physical health. There is no cure, but there are treatments that may slow down its progression. Alzheimer’s is a major reason why people enter nursing homes and other facilities that specialize in caring for those with the disease. Because Alzheimer’s robs people of their memory and mental faculties, victims are especially at risk for neglect and abuse.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It accounts for 60% to 80% of dementia cases. Though it’s common, it’s not a normal part of aging (though increasing age is the greatest known risk factor and most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older). As many as 5% of those with the disease have early-onset Alzheimer’s which can appear when someone is in their 40’s or 50’s.

The cause of the disease is unknown. Alzheimer’s causes the death of brain cells, according to WebMD. Some of the harm could be related to a loss of neurotransmitters that allow nerve cells in the brain to communicate. People with the disease have abnormal brains because of the presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. It’s not known if these plaques and tangles are a side effect or a cause of the disease.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and symptoms gradually worsen over time.

  • Brain damage due to Alzheimer’s eventually causes problems with memory, intelligence, judgment, language, behavior and, ultimately, physical functioning.
  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Those with the disease live, on average, eight years after symptoms become noticeable, but survival can last from four to twenty years, depending on the age and overall health of the person.

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to rapidly grow.

  • About 200,000 are younger than 65, the rest older.
  • One in nine of those 65 and older in the U.S. has Alzheimer’s disease.
  • By 2050 the number of those with the disease aged 65 and older is estimated to rise to 13.8 to 16 million people in the U.S. unless an effective way to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s is developed.

In Maryland the association estimates the impact of Alzheimer’s on the state:

  • There are about 100,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease in the state.
  • It’s projected that 130,000 with the disease will be living in Maryland by 2025.
  • The projected cost to Medicaid for treating those with Alzheimer’s in the state this year will be just over $1 billion.
  • The number of state residents who died of the disease in 2013 is estimated to be 919.

Those with Alzheimer’s are especially at risk for abuse and neglect because of personality and cognitive changes as the disease progresses. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, surveys of caregivers of those with dementia found the following:

  • Caregiver abuse and neglect was detected in 47.3% of those surveyed.
  • 60% report they have been verbally abusive with the person they are caring for.
  • Between 5% and 10% of respondents admit to being physically abusive.
  • 14% reported they were neglectful.

If a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease has suffered abuse or neglect at a Maryland nursing home, we can help you address the situation and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 410-825-3161 today to schedule a free consultation.

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