According to a Scripps Gerontology Center study, Erie County's senior citizen population was 16,043 in 2000. In two more years, that figure will grow to 19,395. That's 3,352 more senior citizens in 10 years. By 2010, there willl be 9,487 in the 60-69 age group, and 4,341 will be in the 80 and older age group.
Because the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's Disease is advanced age, it's important people understand what may be ahead for all of us as we age. According to the Alzheimer's Association, "The likelihood of developing Alzheimer's Disease almost doubles every five years after age 65. After age 85, the probability of acquiring this illness reaches 50 percent."
So what does this really mean? Generally speaking, the average person is said to live about eight years after their symptoms become obvious. The disease is described as having seven stages, according to the Alzheimer's Association: normal functioning; mild forgetfulness. such as forgetting familiar words or the placement of objects; friends and co-workers start to notice something different; medical interview will detect problems with memory, i.e., recalling current events and their personal history; needing help with daily activities of living; memory becomes more impaired, dependency increases and personality may change; this is the final stage when the individual is not responding to their environment.
The good news is research is showing real value in lifestyle changes that indicate protection against Alzheimer's Disease. Eldercollege at BGSU Firelands will offer a six-week course, "Maintain Your Brain." It will include a series of classroom lectures for maintaining a healthy brain taught by a fun and dynamic instructor, Lynn Ritter, Ph.D., with the Alzheimer's Association. There will be a lab for gaining practical, real-life experience on how you maintain a healthy brain as you age. The students are to be age 50 or older. Those who register for the class don't have to take all six classes to benefit. Even if you register and attend one or two of the six classes, you will gain a valuable lesson. Cost is $35. For information or to register, call the Office for Educational Outreach at 419-433-9696. The class starting in February is full but will be offered again in the fall.