Alzheimer's Disease is, in many ways, the worst thing that can happen to anyone. The person we love and know slowly disappears. Spirit of the West singer John Mann describes his own progressive dementia as fading into a "numbing white fog [or slowly slipping behind] a white wall, an empty white wall."1 Mann was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's in 2014, when he was 51. Jill Daum, his life partner, says, "Things just get harder and you have to constantly adapt to it getting more and more difficult — and the person you love getting farther and farther away."
She speaks for many people in a similar situation. For decades, an Alzheimer's diagnosis has been an irrevocable sentence, like watching someone go into exile from which they will never return. Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders (ADRD) affect approximately 47 million people worldwide, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. About 4% of people between 65 and 74 years, and 30% of people over 85 years of age have Alzheimer's. There is no known cure, although many drugs and treatments have been tried, and billions of dollars have been spent on research2.
At the start of 2017, though, there is hope on a number of fronts: caregiving networks are getting stronger, care available is improving all the time, and research in various areas is pointing to new treatments. There are even several possible cures in the works. Here is Comfort Life's look at the state of Alzheimer's, for January 2017.