Alzheimers hitting New Mexicans like 'tsunami-like wave' | KOB 4
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Alzheimers hitting New Mexicans like 'tsunami-like wave'

Morgan Aguilar
March 21, 2018 05:58 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The number of New Mexicans living with Alzheimer's disease has jumped up again. The Alzheimer’s Association released its latest report on Tuesday. It shows 5.7 million Americans are living with the disease. From 2000 to 2015, deaths from Alzheimer’s went up 123 percent in the U.S. New Mexico numbers are among the worst.

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"It is growing faster in New Mexico than it is in other parts of the country," said Gary Giron, Executive Director of the New Mexico Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The 2018 report says 39,000 New Mexicans who are 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s. That is up 1,000 from 2017, and researchers predict it will increase to 53,000 by 2025.

"It is a tsunami-like wave that is hitting New Mexico and affecting more and more families," said Giron.

Alzheimer’s often has a painful, draining impact on family members and caregivers. Giron says it can lead to financial burdens for the family and even health problems for the caregiver.

"The person with the disease exits the workforce, and then you still have the caregiver continuing to be able to run that family,” said Giron. “But over time, the burden of the disease takes more and more time from that caregiver and makes their job harder and harder, so what starts as a five hour job a week, turns to be a 40 hour job, a 50 hour job, a 60 hour job where they're not getting sleep, they're not taking care of themselves and it's hard for them to make ends meet.”

New research ties significant cost savings to an earlier diagnosis. Giron says for that to happen, the nation and the state need to start talking about Alzheimer’s as a public health crisis.

"We need to train our physicians to be able to be comfortable to make an early diagnosis, to be able to make referrals to the right kind of supportive services, to be able to get folks involved with all of our free services here at the Alzheimer's Association, to get a care consultation so that they can be able to navigate their way through this disease,” said Giron.

The Alzheimer’s Association is always hosting events and fundraisers so they can continue offering free support as families try to navigate their way through a deadly, costly disease with no proven treatment or cure.

"It really is a crisis in New Mexico that we have to deal with.

You can learn more about how to get involved with the Alzheimer’s Association or how to take advantage of their services here: https://www.alz.org/newmexico/

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Morgan Aguilar

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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