KTTU "In Focus," Sunday, 10/23/11, 10:30 AM

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Heriberto Contreras, Regional Director,and Deborah Anderson, Program Manager, Alzheimer's Association/Desert Southwest Chapter Office. As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.

Contreras says the biggest risk factor for the disease, one of several “dementias,” is advancing age, followed by genetic. He says most people with Alzheimer’s are age 65 or older. He says people with Alzheimer’s are high consumers of hospital, nursing home and other health and long-term care services.  He says as families continue to struggle financially in the recession, Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming when a family-member has it.  

Anderson says about 70-percent of Alzheimer’s patients are cared for at home.  She says in Arizona alone there are nearly 175,000 family caregivers.  She says as deaths from conditions such as heart disease and stroke continue to decline, more Arizona residents will live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s.  She says the local chapter of the Association provides a helpline, a 24/7 assistance line, medic alert and safe return services, along with education and support for families with an Alzheimer’s patient.

Contreras talks about the annual ”Walk to End Alzheimer’s-Tucson” taking place October 29.  He says there were 2,000 participants last year and 90-thousand dollars was raised.  He says he hopes to raise 100-thousand dollars this year.  He says all money raised remains in Tucson to help support the Association’s local services.