Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Acknowledging Alzheimers

One of my favorite movies is “The Notebook” with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. It has the right mix of drama and romance and touches on a very sad yet very real and important issue that is rarely talked about, Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, irreversible neurological disorder characterized by severe memory loss. It is the most common type of dementia and can affect anyone.

As many as 5 million Americans currently live with the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by 2030 the number of Californians age 55 and over living with Alzheimer’s disease will double. In San Francisco, the number of individuals affected with the disease is expected to increase 54% between the years 2008-2030.

In 2004, Alzheimer’s disease was the 8th leading cause of death in California. Today it is the 6th. However, the disease is often under-diagnosed and under-reported on death certificates because most individuals with the disease also have other serious coexisting medical conditions.

The affects of Alzheimer’s are felt beyond the individual carrying the disease. Caregivers are often adversely affected by the disease because people with dementia often live at home and cared for by family and friends. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, women tend to shoulder this responsibility, as 75% of caregivers are women.

Alzheimer’s disease is not a pleasant topic to discuss - no one likes to be confronted with the scary thought of their loved ones being affected by dementia – but it is an important issue that more people need to be aware of.

I have long supported legislative and other efforts to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, including efforts to find better treatment and care. As we face the sobering news about the increase in the number of patients and the personal and financial costs of their care, we clearly must do more to fight this disease. You can count on me to continue this battle.

For more information - Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures in California