Today is World Alzheimer's Day, which very likely means nothing to you. That's because if you have Alzheimer's disease in your family, you already know how ruthless the disease is and you already spend every day thinking about it. Conversely, if you're not currently facing the disease in some way, you are way too terrified to think about it and you'd do anything not to. You'd rather read every word in the phonebook. You'd rather re-take the SATs. You'd rather eat worms -- anything not to have to consider a disease that unravels your brain, steals your memories, and takes you away from you.
But there is something you desperately need to know about Alzheimer's -- that is, if you plan on living past the age of 60: no one is immune.
Here's another thing you need to know: the greatest risk factor is age.
And just one more thing: you can help get us closer to a cure. Alzheimer's is one of biggest killers and one of the most costly diseases around, but we still haven't developed the political will to combat it. The clock is ticking as we creep toward another generation of victims.
More on Alzheimer's:
Read one of my favorite books on the subject.
See some very short films to introduce you to the basics.
Peruse an Times op-ed about the political realities.
Watch a wonderful documentary on Alzheimer's.
Visit the Alzheimer's Association site to learn more and do your part.
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David Shenk is a writer on genetics, talent and intelligence. He is the author of Data Smog, The Forgetting, and most recently, The Genius In All of Us.