This month, the California Legislature recognized June as Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. Leaders across the state are coming together to emphasize the public health emergency facing 670,000 Californians who are living with Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder that causes problems with an individual's memory, thinking, and behavior. This brain disorder robs individuals of their memories and leads to a decline in the quality of their lives.
Most individuals who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease are age 65 and older, but Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, nor is it a disease of old age. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer's disease. This disease is the third leading cause of death in California and directly impacts millions of Californians and their loved ones.
The number of those living with Alzheimer's disease in California is projected to be 25 percent in the next decade, impacting 840,000 individuals by 2025, and as the number affected by the disease grows, so does the cost to reduce and manage the symptoms. California's Medi-Cal program will spend $3.9 billion this year on skilled care provided to those who have been diagnosed with the disease.
African-Americans, Latinos, and women are disproportionately impacted by Alzheimer's, with higher prevalence rates than the general population. Disparities in detection and diagnosis persist, which results in fewer than half of individuals affected by the disease receiving a formal diagnosis. It is recommended to be routinely assessed when seen by your primary care physician to identify potential symptoms.
Friday, June 21, is the Summer Solstice, and is known as the longest day of the year. Groups from all over the world are coming together on the Longest Day of the Year to highlight the strength and endurance of people facing Alzheimer's disease through advocacy and awareness. I hope that you will join me in educating others about Alzheimer's disease on June 21, throughout the month of June, and beyond.