President Matt Rupert introduced our speaker, Larry Gentry, Chairman of the Board for the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer’s Association provides free services to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, their families, and caregivers.

 

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the USA. In its final stages, Alzheimer’s and dementia cause the body to shut down; essentially, the body “forgets” how to perform involuntary actions like swallowing and breathing. Of the top six causes of death, Alzheimer’s is the only one that cannot be prevented or even slowed.

 

Right now, there are 5.2 million people in the United States with Alzheimers. By the time the last of the baby-boomer generation hits age 65 (the average age at which patients are diagnosed), there will be an estimated 15 million cases, which will easily overwhelm and bankrupt Medicare. This fact increases the urgency with which the association works to educate and inform our public officials and the private sector, while striving to secure funding for essential research needed to find a way to cure, prevent, and/or slow down the progress of the disease.

 

In addition to research, the Alzheimer’s Association provides support for those who have been diagnosed with the disease as well as care groups for family members and caregivers. There are more than 80 active support groups in Arizona. The association also provides counselors at no cost who will come to the house, meet with the family, and help them find doctors, caregivers, and support services.

 

A few years ago, researchers discovered the protein that, in excess, causes Alzheimer’s. Doctors were excited because they knew they could bring those protein levels down. Unfortunately, the drug therapy that brought the protein levels under control did not reverse or even slow the progression of the disease. The discovery made it possible for doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s without an autopsy; however, the medical community does not yet know how to do anything about it.

 

Interesting facts:

 

  • Arizona is the 3rd fastest growing state for the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

  • More than two-thirds of diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients are female

  • If you have diabetes, you are 4-5 times more likely to get Alzheimer’s

  • People who have had severe head injuries are 4-5 times more likely to get Alzheimer’s

  • 100% of children with Down’s Syndrome, if they live long enough, will develop Alzheimer’s; this fact led researchers to the discovery of the protein, because the extra gene that causes Down’s Syndrome is the gene that produces the protein that causes Alzheimer’s

  • Two years ago, the national congress made Alzheimer’s a national health priority, which opens doors to funding

  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death, but the 10th in funding on research

 

Matt offered to donate the $125 speaker fee to the Alzheimer’s Association. XXX has already signed up to participate in the Phoenix Walk to End Alzheimer’s on November 14, 2015, so Larry requested that the club pledge the amount to him to support his effort. All funds raised by walkers will go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association.