Ronald C Hamdy
James M Turnbull
Science tells us what we can know, but what we
can know is little, and if we forget how much
we cannot know, we become insensitive to
many things of great importance.
The announcement By Ronald Reagan that he had Alzheimer's disease galvanized the American public into recognizing their own vulnerability in a way no other public figure has done. Norman Rockwell and Rita Hayworth, both victims of Allieimer's disease, were beloved and admired, but they were not former presidents of the United States and did not have the aura of the former president. As a direct result of this announcement, President Reagan challenged politicians and lawmakers to properly fund research into the cause and treatment of this disease.
Alzheimer's disease is often referred to as the "disease of the century."
In addition to affecting the patient and caregivers, Alzheimer's disease has very significant social and economic implications. It is identified as "dementia of the Alzheimer's type" in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Alzheimer's disease illustrates and emphasizes the concept of the global village: when a person is afflicted by Alzheimer's disease, it is not only that person who suffers, but also the family, neighbors, friends, relatives, and society by and large. As John Donne said, no man is an island.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. It now afflicts nearly 4 million Americans. These numbers are expected to increase dramatically as the U.S. population ages. By the year 2050 approximately 14.5 million people will suffer from Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is not part of the normal aging process, although it affects predominantly elderly people. Whereas only 10% of those 65 years of age and