UNDERSTANDING
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.

Millions of Americans have Alzheimer's disease. This number will grow each year as the size and proportion of the U.S. population age 65 and older continue to increase. The number will escalate rapidly in coming years as the baby boom generation ages.

AN ESTIMATED 5.3 MILLION AMERICANS OF ALL AGES HAVE ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE IN 2015.

ALMOST TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICANS WITH ALZHEIMER'S ARE WOMEN.

IT IS ESTIMATED THAT EVERY 67 SECONDS, SOMEONE IN THE U.S. DEVELOPS ALZHEIMER'S.

By mid-century, it's projected that someone in the U.S. will develop the disease every 33 seconds.

ADVANCING FROM UNDERSTANDING TOWARD EARLY INTERVENTION

Alzheimer’s disease was first described over 100 years ago. Important advances in our understanding of the disease have only been made in the past 25 years.

“Even though Dr. Alzheimer characterized the disease in 1906, it wasn’t until the last few decades that the disease became recognized as a real illness separate from normal aging and other forms of dementia,” said Darryle Schoepp, Ph.D., vice president and therapeutic area head, Neuroscience, Merck.

“Now people are living longer, and we can see how the disease works,” said David Michelson, M.D., vice president, Clinical Neuroscience Research, Merck. “Science is at a place where not only do we understand more about it, but we might potentially be able to do something about it.”

“New technologies are allowing the identification of early disease signs which we hope will allow us to intervene promptly in order to slow or halt progression. That’s the holy grail. What you want to do is to have something that works and to be able to use it before the disease robs people of who they really are and hopefully to stop the progress of the disease early,” said Dr. Michelson.

CLINICAL TRIALS INCREASING KNOWLEDGE

Advances in Alzheimer’s are possible because thousands have participated in Alzheimer’s clinical trials and other studies to learn more about the disease and test treatments.

Programs like the Alzheimer's Association Trial Match™ initiative are helping link people who have the disease to specific clinical trials.

Today, at least 70,000 volunteers are urgently needed to participate in more than 150 active clinical trials and studies in the U.S. that are testing ways to understand, treat, prevent or cure Alzheimer's disease.

THE NEED TO RAISE AWARENESS

As the journey toward finding a medical solution continues in the worldwide research community, the path forward for current Alzheimer’s disease patients and caregivers remains difficult.

That makes the efforts by many organizations, companies and individuals to raise awareness and offer support even more important.

Patti Kerr
Alzheimer’s disease educator, author and former caregiver

     Understanding how Alzheimer’s disease impacts the patient and the caregiver allows us to raise awareness, to remove some of the stigma and to give people more hope that we can get through this together, said certified Alzheimer’s disease educator, author and former caregiver Patti Kerr.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE SCIENCE

David Michelson, M.D., vice president of Clinical Neuroscience Research for Merck, discusses scientific approaches for changing the course of Alzheimer's disease.

ADVICE FOR CAREGIVERS

Listen to Patti Kerr, certified Alzheimer’s disease educator and author, on what all caregivers need to do.

ART FOR ALL

Learn more about Art for All, a Merck co-sponsored program which is designed to introduce individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s to various museums.

RESOURCES FOR PATIENTS AND CAREGIVERS

Finding the resources and support to manage Alzheimer's disease is one of the key steps in coping with the disease. Here are links to a few of the resources available: