Alzheimer’s disease is an epidemic as the nation’s population gets older and more susceptible to the ravages of dementia. But Alzheimer’s San Diego is devoted to turning back the tide with the help of dedicated volunteers, generous donors and the extraordinary local research community.
Here are five surprising facts about Alzheimer’s San Diego:
1. Alzheimer’s Toll Is Larger Here
An estimated 60,000 of San Diegans are living with Alzheimer’s, an incurable, progressive and fatal brain disease. People with the disease lose basic thinking skills and become completely dependent on others.
Another number is even more startling: 94,000. That’s how many people in the county are expected to be living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia by 2030.
Even now, as the big jump in cases looms, Alzheimer’s is the third-leading cause of death in the county. That’s compared to a typical ranking of fifth or sixth nationally.
The county ranks high because it has a slightly older population, says Mary Ball, Alzheimer’s San Diego’s CEO and president. An estimated one in nine people aged 65 or older suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia conditions, as do one in three people aged 85 or older.
2. Alzheimer’s San Diego Served 25,000 Individuals
Last year, Alzheimer’s San Diego provided programs and services to a whopping 25,000 local individuals.
“Alzheimer’s is a family disease, and 80 percent of people are cared for at home by family members,” Ball says. “People, on average, live with the disease for 8 to 12 years. Our goal is to teach family members how to care for their loved ones.”
Services for San Diegans living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers include a help and information line staffed by licensed social workers (call 858.492.4400), support groups and dozens of classes a year about topics like dealing with dementia, preventing people with memory loss from wandering and communicating with loved ones. The chapter has also created a new program called Alz Companions that allows caregivers to take a break while a trained volunteer looks after their loved one.
3. All Alzheimer’s San Diego Services Are Free
Alzheimer’s San Diego does not charge for any of its services.
“We rely on the generosity of the community to provide all of our programs and services,” Ball said.
In addition to its services for caregivers, Alzheimer’s San Diego also offers programs for people who are living with Alzheimer’s such as music sessions, art classes and outings.
4. Funds Millions of Dollars in Local Research
“If you look at the top 10 causes of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s is the only disease without a treatment or a cure,” Ball said.
That’s why Alzheimer’s research is so crucial, and why Alzheimer’s San Diego is so devoted to supporting scientists as they search for a way to turn back the devastation of the disease.
The Alzheimer’s San Diego has funded $15 million for research in San Diego. Local hot spots for research include Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Scripps Research Institute, Salk Institute, UC San Diego and the Venter Institutes, among others.
5. New Collaboration Offers Major Potential
In collaboration with the county and city, philanthropists and research organizations, the Alzheimer’s San Diego has launched a new partnership to help local researchers develop medications to treat Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia.
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All proceeds go to support San Diego-based research to end Alzheimer’s disease.
The program’s name is Collaboration4Cure and the focus is the “drug discovery” process in which researchers use robots to test hundreds of thousands of potential drug compounds.
“Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and The Scripps Research Institute both have advanced robotic drug-discovery capabilities,” Ball said. “We’re hoping local researchers will take advantage of their facilities and expertise to run promising compounds through the initial process.”
Learn more about the Alzheimer’s San Diego sponsor, Competitive Edge Research & Communication.