Editorial: Working for a cure

Many of us may not have been aware that September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and though the month draws to a close, we still have an opportunity to support research for a cure.

About 5.2 million people in our country are afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It’s also a disease that can rob us of our family members even before death, as we watch them lose their memories and in some cases, their ability to respond to their environment.

Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s, which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Some of the statistics on Alzheimer’s are staggering. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia. In 2013, Alzheimer's will cost the nation $203 billion. This number is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050, according to Alz.org.

The disease currently has no cure. But there is hope. Although current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing, according to the national Association.

We can and should all be part of the fight for a cure, better care and support for those taking care of people with Alzheimer’s.

One such opportunity comes this weekend in Norwalk. The 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer’s is this Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9 a.m., Calf Pasture Beach. The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the nation’s largest event to help raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Trumbull’s own Maefair Health Center has been one of the organization’s supporting the walk. Online registration is still open until Friday, or participants can register on walk day. If you can’t make it, consider making a donation at alz.org.

To find local Alzheimer’s services, information and events, visit alz.org, and type in your zip code.