Right now there are about 170 ,000 people in Michigan diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, according to www.alz.org, and those are just the ones we know about.
It's the sixth leading cause of death in the nation, and officials say there are over 8,000 people in the Upper Peninsula alone who have it.
"There's certainly a lot of concern that people are not even being diagnosed as really as early as they could be so what the real numbers are is really not clear," said Jennifer Lepard, President Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Michigan Chapter.
According to www.alz.org, every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Of those, two thirds are women.
Coincidentally, 60 percent of caregivers are women. Doctors don't have a clear understanding of what exactly causes Alzheimer's disease.
What they do know, is it comes from a build up of proteins in the brain, which attack the parts of the brain associated with memory.
"So if you, can't remember somebody's name, and it comes to you later, or you're trying to remember what that movie was that you'd seen, and then you can't remember, then it wakes you up sometimes in the middle of the night and you go, 'oh that was it,' that's normal. It's okay to forget, but remember later. If you have Alzheimer's disease, you can't remember later," said Ruth Almen, Regional Director at the U.P. Office for the Alzheimer's Association.
The person with the disease isn't the only one affected. The disease affects everyone around the person diagnosed as well.
"One of the things that caregivers really have to focus on is taking care of themselves, because they are really embarking on an amazing journey of caring for someone else. The loved one that they care for will go through many stages as they go through the disease and really caregivers need to have support to understand that they're not alone," said Lepard.
Here's a list of support groups and outside information for those affected by Alzheimer's disease:
24/7 Help line: 1-800-272-3900
Marquette Adult Day Services (906) 226-2142
Mental Health and Aging Project 1-(517)-483-1529
LIVEWISE program at the YMCA (906) 227-9622