Medication and local programs allow progress for people suffering from Alzheimer’s

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-  Mother's Day is a time for people to thank the women who raised them, but sometimes children may be the ones providing the care. Nearly six million people in America are living with Alzheimer's Disease.

"Nobody comes in here turning cartwheels excited," Christy Todd said. Todd is the owner of ChristyCare Senior Day Care.

Maybe not at first, but a lively tune for these seniors is enough to put some spring in their step.

"Even just a couple days a week, half a day, and you'll watch them thrive. And they look forward and want to come back," Todd said.

Todd started ChristyCare in Huntsville as a place for people with Alzheimer's to gather, play a game, do arts and crafts and make friends.

"I saw a big need for this, but it took forever for the community to realize this was good for their loved ones because none of them want to come here in the beginning," Todd said.

Dr. Andrew Budson studies memory loss and Alzheimer's disease in Boston. He said daily exercise and stimulation is ideal for keeping the mind sharp, but new medicines are also showing positive signs.

"They can turn the clock back on memory problems by six to 12 months. So, I can make somebody's memory like it was six months or even a year ago," Dr. Budson said.

But that's assuming a person is diagnosed early.

"Time is of the essence. Baby boomers are already turning 65. And once you hit 65, you have a one in eight chance of developing Alzheimer's Disease," Brandi Medina with the Alzheimer's Association said.

Leaders at the Alzheimer's Association say there are around 90,000 people in Alabama living with the disease. Fortunately, Dr. Budson said the disease is becoming more manageable.

"HIV is a good example. We used to think of that as a death sentence. Now we think of it as something people can live with," Dr. Budson said.

This month, Governor Kay Ivey is expected to sign the new "Silver Alert Bill" which passed in Montgomery this spring. The bill creates a statewide notification system if someone with dementia goes missing.