Every 70 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimers.
That statistic is according to the Alzheimers Association. In a recent study the association said more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease. That's a 10 percent increase since the last estimate five years ago.
Treatment is currently available for Alzheimers patients, but there is no cure for the disease. That means if these numbers keep growing by 2050 that toll could reach 16 million.
But as WBKO's Fida Georges reports there is more to these statistics, and the findings of this study have implications for long term health care.
Director of Western's Center for Gerontology, Dr. Dana Bradley, said the findings of this study seem alarming, but reflect the aging of our general population.
"As the baby boomers enter into old age (they are turning 60 now) they are becoming older. The population is aging and also we have increases in longevity," Bradley said
Baby boomers start turning 65 in 2011. According to the Alzheimers Association study, one in eight people 65 and older have the mind destroying illness, and so do nearly half of all people over 85. Bradley said this isn't the only reason for the skyrocketing numbers of Alzheimers patients.
"We've made a lot of medical advances in early diagnoses so five, 10 and even 20 years ago we wouldn't have had the techniques to make a positive diagnosis," Bradley said.
Bradley also said having a medical check up with a neurologist and finding a center that is specifically designed for Alzheimers patients is the best plan for treating the disease.
Bowling Green's Morningside is the only fully specialized licensed facility in the state for Alzheimers patients. Administrator Brian Jaggers said the rise in Alzhemiers is causing long term health care professionals to develop more of these facilities.
"Our facility has carpeting to reduce glare, walls are textured and wall paper specialized lighting to accommodate the needs of those residents," Jaggers said.
According to Bradley, these numbers are prompting attention to the seriousness of this disease but shouldn't cause widespread fear.
"We do think the diagnosis techniques have made it so we can spot this a little earlier and offer well thought out treatment protocols," Bradley said.
Bradley also said there are nine promising drugs in advanced clinical trials which experts feel can help relieve some of the symptoms associated with Alzheimers.