DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Lee Sneller of Flower Mound was an Industrial Engineer before retirement. “I can no longer add, subtract, multiply or divide. Yet I was an engineer,” says Sneller.
In 2005 Sneller was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment; short-term memory loss. In 2009 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. “I was devastated,” he says.
The Alzheimer’s Association has released a report that shows a projected sharp increase in the number of people with the brain disease. There are currently 3.5 million Americans who have the disease. But with the first wave of baby boomers now turning 65 experts expect those numbers to more than double. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 10 million baby boomers will get the disease. By the year 2050, it’s estimated that 13.5 million people will have Alzheimer’s.
There’s still more that needs to be done to combat the disease. According to the, Alzheimer’s Association federal funding for Alzheimer’s research is drastically underfunded. They say significantly more money is being put toward cancer, heart disease, and HIV research.
“We’ve made significant strides in Alzheimer’s disease and early detection and early diagnosis and we’ve increased our understanding of what some of the disease processes are that are related to Alzheimer’s disease, but there are a lot of questions that we don’t know the answer to,” explained Heather Snyder, Senior Associate Director, Medical and Scientific Relations for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Lee Sneller says he’s trying to battle the disease by staying active, living a healthy lifestyle and taking two different Alzheimer’s medications. Lee says he has problem with his short-term memory but his long-term memory is still good. He counsels business leaders through an organization called SCORE; Service Corp of Retired Executives. “When the person leaves I probably will not know his name,” says Lee. “I may not remember what it is I told him right away.”
Lee doesn’t mind telling people he has a hard time remembering the simplest of facts – such as his age. When asked the question he says, “I am…” and lingers in thought without coming up with a number.
Lee’s wife, Pat, who is always at his side says to him, “Tell me when you want me to help you.” Lee answers the age question with, “Sixty-five” and Pat corrects him saying, “No, you’re 70.”
In a way Pat is Lee’s memory and often helps him finish sentences when he struggles to find the words. “I understand more, probably, than the average spouse because my dad and his mom both had Alzheimer’s and we cared for them at the end of their life,” Pat explained.
Snyder says there is also a need for more individuals to participate in long-term clinical studies.
Last year the Alzheimer’s Association launched a program called Trial Match. It is a tool that provides information about comprehensive clinical trials in an effort to match people with the appropriate study. It’s designed for people with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers and healthcare professionals.
Click here for more information about the report ‘Generation Alzheimer’s: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers’.