Alzheimer's advocates looking for more support

Alzheimer's Association official: Florida has second highest rate of Alzheimer's disease in U.S.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and advocates for an Alzheimer's cure say more needs to be done to raise funding and awareness.

Every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It's an alarming figure researchers want people to know -- especially women.

"One in six women are being diagnosed in their 60s with Alzheimer's and that's twice as likely as breast cancer," said Michelle Branham, with the Alzheimer's Association.

Five-million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. Nearly two-thirds of them are women.

A new study shows women are also the majority of the caretakers for patients with the disease.

Joanne Reinhart knows too well the struggles of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. In 2006, she became the caregiver for her father until he died a few years ago. It was a stressful and expensive period of her life.

It's a stress that the Alzheimer's Association said disproportionately effects women more than men.

According to the latest statistics from the organization, women over 65 have a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer's disease, and men of a similar age have a one in 11 chance of developing the disease.

At 53, Reinhart said she's prepared for the possibility of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's one day, but admits she is afraid to undergo a cognitive screening test to see if she is at risk.

"Unless there's a cure -- and I hope it will be, or slow it down substantially," said Reinhart. "I've planned financially for it but I don't know how you plan emotionally."

Branham said because women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer's disease, every woman in her 40s or older should treat it just as seriously as breast cancer.

"We don't know why it is disproportionate. That would be apart of the research and I'm sad to say we don't know yet," said Branham. "That's why I think a strong commitment to research is going to be imperative, and that's why we have to talk about it a lot and loudly because we need more research and funding towards it."

Branham also said Florida has the second highest rate of Alzheimer's disease in the nation.

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