Gayle Anderson was live in North Hollywood because November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
The Alzheimer Association reports Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States overall and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent it, cure it or even slow its progression. Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65. By 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease.
The association reports since people with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before, old age brings unexpected challenges, including the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Down syndrome is a condition in which a person is born with extra genetic material from chromosome 21, one of the 23 human chromosomes. Most people with Down syndrome have a full extra copy of chromosome 21, so they have three copies instead of the usual two. In ways that scientists don’t yet understand, the extra copies of genes present in Down syndrome cause developmental problems and health issues.
The association says studies suggest that more than 75 percent of those with Down syndrome aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, nearly 6 times the percentage of people in this age group who do not have Down syndrome. Scientists think that the increased risk of dementia in individuals with Down syndrome may also result from the extra gene.
As with all adults, advancing age also increases the chances a person with Down syndrome will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Because people with Down syndrome live, on average, 55 to 60 years, they are more likely to develop younger-onset Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s occurring before age 65) than older-onset Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s occurring at age 65 or older).
Autopsy studies show that by age 40, the brains of almost all individuals with Down syndrome have significant levels of plaques and tangles, abnormal protein deposits considered Alzheimer’s hallmarks. But despite the presence of these brain changes, not everyone with the syndrome develops Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Information is courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association.
On a happier note, Jimmy Jenson has recently completed the New York City marathon. He is the first runner with Down syndrome to finish the race. At 48 years old, Jimmy’s health is of vital importance to his performance as a marathon runner.
Jimmy Jenson started running through Best Buddies, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). He was partnered with Jennifer Davis who works with ARC, an organization that promotes the welfare of individuals with developmental disabilities through activities and recreation. Davis and Jenson are now preparing to compete with Team ARC in the upcoming L.A. Marathon. To support Team ARC, click HERE.
National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
225 North Michigan Avenue. Floor 17
Chicago, IL 60601-7633
1 (800) 272-3900
ARC – Activities, Recreation & Care
6456 Whitsett Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91606
(818) 762-1048 FAX
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