Alzheimer’s Turns 100 – Bill Gates is on a Mission to End It Now!

100 years ago, German physician Dr. Alois Alzheimer first wrote about “a peculiar disease.” He described the case of a woman named “Auguste D,” who was experiencing significant memory loss, severe paranoia, and other psychological changes. But, it wasn’t until Alzheimer performed an autopsy on her brain that he found that her brain had shrunk significantly, and there were unusual deposits in and around the nerve cells. This was how Alzheimer’s Disease was first discovered.

This month is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and sadly we are recognizing the 100th birthday of the disease, still without a cure. In fact, Alzheimer’s is so prevalent today that it has directly affected approximately 1 in every 2 families. Here are a few facts and figures about the disease, including a few things that should give us a glimmer of hope:

· Alzheimer’s currently affects more than 5 million Americans and that number is likely to triple by 2050.
· It is the sixth leading cause of death in the USA and is climbing steadily in the rankings.
· Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and accounts for about 65% of all dementia worldwide.
· Alzheimer’s follows a 14-year course from the onset of the first symptoms until death (there is of course some variability across patients but 14 years is pretty typical.)
· Alzheimer’s is generally detected at the end-stage of the disease (in years 8-10 of that disease course), which is typically far too late to optimize the effects of currently available treatments.
· Many people, including a startling number of physicians, incorrectly believe that memory loss is a normal part of aging. It isn’t! Regardless of the cause of the memory loss, timely medical intervention is best.
· One of the reasons that current treatments are often deemed ineffective is because they are routinely prescribed for patients with end-stage pathology who already have massive brain damage. With earlier intervention, treatment can be administered to patients with healthier brains, many of whom will respond more vigorously to the recommended therapy.
· “We have no cure” does not mean “there is no treatment.” With a good diet, physical exercise, social engagement, and certain drugs, many patients (especially those detected at an early stage) can meaningfully alter the course of Alzheimer’s and preserve their quality of life.
· Through an intense research effort over the past twenty years, scientists have gained a lot of insight about Alzheimer’s disease. Although we don’t know when, better treatments for Alzheimer’s are certainly on the way.
· Take good care of your heart to help your brain stay healthy: Researchers have shown that high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity all confer greater risk for cognitive decline. Maintaining good vascular health will help you age with cognitive vitality.
· Managing risk factors may delay or prevent cognitive problems later in life: Well-identified risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include diabetes, head injuries, smoking, poor diet, lethargy, and isolation. Most of these risk factors for Alzheimer’s can be actively managed to reduce the likelihood of cognitive decline.

Typically, when someone or something turns 100, it is a happy occasion — like my daughter’s grandmother’s 100th birthday which we just celebrated this past weekend! As you know, this is not the case with Alzheimer’s. In the spirit of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and to continue his tradition of giving money to fight diseases worldwide, billionaire Bill Gates  is now trying to put an end to Alzheimer’s for good!

Bill Gates Donates $100 Million to Stop Alzheimer’s

Bill Gates has pledged to invest $100 million into research to find a breakthrough for Alzheimer’s disease.

The billionaire, who is the richest person in the world, announced yesterday that he plans to make an initial $50 million investment into a venture capital fund, Dementia Discovery Fund, that finances new treatments for the degenerative condition. This will be followed up by another $50 million investment in start-up ventures working in research on Alzheimer’s.

In his blog post, Bill Gates said he was confident a breakthrough in treating Alzheimer’s could be found if progress was made in key areas, including developing better early diagnosis and funding more diverse approaches to treating patients. According to Gates, “By improving in each of these areas, I think we can develop an intervention that drastically reduces the impact of Alzheimer’s. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our chances: our understanding of the brain and the disease is advancing a great deal. We’re already making progress—but we need to do more.”

Gates said the money he was investing would be coming from him personally rather than from his philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He added that the foundation could play a future role in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease by helping to fund any breakthrough treatments for poorer countries.

Medicaid Asset Protection 

Hopefully, the money Bill Gates pledged will help with a breakthrough towards curing Alzheimer’s. In the meantime, persons with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and their families, face special legal and financial needs. At the Farr Law Firm, we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their loved ones. We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits such as Medicaid and Veterans Aid and Attendance. If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, please call us as soon as possible to make an appointment for an initial consultation:

Fairfax Alzheimer’s Planning: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Alzheimer’s Planning: 540-479-1435
Rockville Alzheimer’s Planning: 301-519-8041
DC Alzheimer’s Planning: 202-587-2797

Print This Page
About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.