A new report shows 62,000 Iowans have Alzheimer’s Disease and that number is expected to grow to 73,000 in just over a decade. Carol Sipfle, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Iowa, says the annual report has more disturbing facts about the disease’s impact in the state.
“We have the third highest death rate from Alzheimer’s Disease in the country. I think that’s pretty startling,” Sipfle says. “In Iowa, it’s the fifth leading cause of death, while nationally it’s the sixth leading cause of death.”
Iowa has one of highest percentages of residents 65 and older in the country, but Sipfle is quick to point out that Alzheimer’s isn’t just a disease that strikes the elderly. Sipfle says the disease remains widely misunderstood, as many people mistakenly believe it’s simply about memory loss. “It’s so much more than just memory loss, it’s something that kills people,” Sipfle says. “As the brain deteriorates from Alzheimer’s Disease, yes, people do lose their memory, but it impacts their personality, their ability to think, it has a physical impact, and ultimately people will die either from Alzheimer’s Disease or with Alzheimer’s Disease.”
The report from the Alzheimer’s Association (2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures) features information about how the disease impacts primarily women. Sipfle is calling on the federal government to invest in Alzheimer’s research as heavily as it does breast cancer. “You know, women are afraid of breast cancer, and rightly so, but what this report tells us is that by the time women are in their 60s, they’re almost twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s as they are to get breast cancer,” Sipfle said.
The report states a woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age 65 is 1 in 6, compared with nearly 1 in 11 for a man.