What Is Alzheimer's Disease?

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning

“Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s.”[1]

Although Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death, studies over the last few years reveal that deaths that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease are underreported. Findings show that in many instances, death is attributed to health conditions such as inhalation pneumonia resulting from Alzheimer’s as the body loses its ability to function effectively. Researchers believe that if reported accurately, Alzheimer’s disease would rank as the third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer. [2]

A review of the Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures[3] reveals astonishingly high annual costs associated with the disease. Estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars, the cost of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase exponentially, as is the number of people diagnosed with the disease. This report provides staggering details outlining the cost of care; including the fact that much of the cost of care is absorbed by the person with Alzheimer’s and his or her family out of their own pockets, and the unimaginable number of hours people have donated to provide care for a loved one with the disease.

Caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease is not only expensive but can be exhausting. The patient with Alzheimer’s will experience the disease process in different ways at various stages of the disease. Caregiver responsibilities can range from paying bills and balancing the checkbook to bathing and dressing. This chapter explores the care options available to a person living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, who make great sacrifices to care for them.

Many care options exist in the spectrum between living in a private residence and moving into a nursing home. Yet a person who has Alzheimer’s, and his or her family, often view a nursing home as a dreaded choice without learning about all of the care options that exist.

Call us at 919-443-3035. One of our friendly Client Welcome Specialists will be happy to tell you more about The Alzheimer’s Planning Center and our unique Memory Safeguard Planning, to help you determine the best path forward, and to help you take the next steps toward a more secure future and a better life.


[1] National Institute on Aging, 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet, available at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet (last visited September 11, 2017).

[2] National Institute on Aging, Number of Alzheimer’s deaths found to be underreported, at https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/number-alzheimers-deaths-found-be-underreported (last visited March 1, 2018).

[3] Alzheimer’s Association, 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Cost to Nation, available at https://alz.org/facts/overview.asp (last visited September 11, 2017).