HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- It's no secret that we're all getting older. The aging population is growing and with that, the rate of Americans living with Alzheimer's is expected to double by 2060.
Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are characterized by a decline in memory leading to a loss of independence.
"Families aren't prepared when this happens to them," said Bradford Meythaler, the president Right at Home. "So know about Alzheimer's and dementia, it's growing across America and the world. The disease, awareness needs to be around it. People need to talk about it."
Right at Home is a home care agency for aging adults. He says what they do is important, so a family can be a family, not just caregivers." Support the caregivers, because caregivers can have caregiver burn out. Sometimes they need a break and understanding their limitations," he said.
There is no cure yet, but researchers have made strides. European researchers are hailing a possible breakthrough in the fight against the disease. Scientists identified "abnormal pathogens" that destroy healthy brain cells. Scientists have also discovered a way to target the toxic particles.
Until now, drugs have been aimed at Alzheimer's symptoms, not its cause. The discovery could lead to clinical trials for new drug treatments in two years. It would be a big breakthrough for the more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease.
"It takes a village, it takes a community to provide the care. Knowing the disease helps prepare and plan and set living wills and power of attorneys," Meythaler said.
He said as the baby boomers are aging and retiring, it's important that families talk about Alzheimer's and take steps to prepare.
A recent survey said nearly 40% of Americans aged 65 and over, say they haven't had conversations with anyone about preparing for the possible need for long-term care.