Alzheimer's Day raises awareness 

Sep 17

MERRILLVILLE -- Every 70 seconds, a new person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease or other form of dementia.

To illustrate that, a bell was rung every 70 seconds during the World Alzheimer's Day memorial at The Methodist Hospitals in Merrillville on Monday. At just under six minutes, it had rung five times.

By the numbers

People with Alzheimer's in the United States: 5 million
People with Alzheimer's worldwide: 15 million
People age 65 and up diagnosed: 1 in 8
People age 85 and up: 1 in 2 People diagnosed every day: 1,234

Sponsored by the hospital, Northwest Indiana Alzheimer's Association and other area facilities specializing in dementia-related conditions, patients and staff released balloons in honor of people they either know or have lost to Alzheimer's. As time goes on, the disease will only become more widespread.

"I'm a baby boomer, and with us baby boomers, the disease will grow incredibly among us, upwards of 11 million by 2030," said Louise Thompson, community liaison for the Alzheimer's Association of Northwest Indiana. "And 2030 isn't that far away."

So far, drugs do keep the disease at bay for a while but in no way cure the disease. Worse, patients with Alzheimer's or dementia often have to jump through many hurdles to even get help, according to Thompson.

"We see it a lot in our younger onset patients: If they're working, they often quit to get on disability, which can take years. But then there's a two-year waiting period to get on Medicare," Thompson said. "Not only do we support research, but we support advocacy and trying to phase out the moratorium for Medicare."

The group is also a big supporter of the Silver Alert, which works like the Amber Alert and allows law enforcement to work with each other and around HIPPA laws. So far, five people in Indiana have been helped by the Silver Alert since its 2008 inception, Thompson said.

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