EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – A recent study shows that 1in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer's or another type of Dementia.
And it's a huge concern among the U.S. aging population.
The report shows that already 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and the numbers are expected to nearly triple by the year 2050.
To put it in perspective: 30 percent of 70-year-olds who don't have Alzheimer’s are expected to die before reaching their 80th birthday, but if you have dementia, 61 percent are expected to die.
The alarming statistics weren't far from minds of more than 700 hundred seniors that gathered at the 25th Annual Senior American’s Day event at U.W. Eau Claire.
“Off course it is a huge concern for all of us that are getting older. As I get older I want to keep my mental ability as sharp as I possibly can,” said 59-year-old Eau Claire resident and event attendee Paula Stuettgen.
“Alzheimer's disease and Dementia in general, is probably one of the biggest concerns we need to have in the health field right now. And we don't have the caregivers, we don't have the housing, we don't have the education on the disease,” said Director of Community Relations with Azura Memory Care, Paula Gibson.
Dementia does not kill directly, but it causes the brain to stop sending signals to vital organs, which can cause many health issues.
“What it does, it steal the memories, but it also steals the person's ability to walk, to talk, to eat. It’s so much more than just a memory disease; it's a quality of life disease,” said Gibson.
Gibson lost her grandmother and her dad to Alzheimer’s, and says the effects of it on everyone around are devastating.
“You looked at my father and thought he was fine, until you talked to him and realized that he didn't even remember my name,” said Gibson.
Mental exercise and physical activity experts say are things that everyone should be doing to prevent the disease.
“It’s not something we can cure, but I think it's important to educate yourself, to learn as much as you can, to stay active,” said Lisa Wells with Aging and Disability Resource Center.
“It’s one of those things that it affects so many of us as we see our parents aging and as we age ourselves, it is something that's important for us to address,” said Stuettgen.
There is no cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s right now, but Gibson says the more people are talking about the disease, the more money goes towards research, and more memories could preserved for future generations.