Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease. The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s currently has no cure. But research continues, and there have been advances in slowing the progression of the fatal disease. The key is early detection. 

Only around one in four people with the disease get diagnosed, though. Throughout November, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month promotes greater understanding of this complex neurological disease and its symptoms for earlier detection and treatment. 

Alzheimer’s is one of the fastest-growing epidemics in the U.S. When President Ronald Reagan declared the very first National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983, the disease affected less than 2 million people nationwide. Now, more than 5.7 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to triple by 2050. 

An estimated one in nine people over the age of 65 and more than half a million under the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia in the U.S. Alzheimer’s causes changes in the brain that impact mental abilities and memory and lead to the need for care, which costs families an estimated $56 billion out of pocket annually.

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month calls attention to the more than 16.1 million family and friends caring for a loved one with the disease. These caregivers face not just financial burdens, but also mental and physical health challenges as they struggle to provide their loved one unpaid assistance while maintaining their own jobs, lives, responsibilities. 

A number of organizations offer resources online to support the Alzheimer’s patient and caregiver. To learn more about how you can get involved in this month’s activities and beyond, a great place to start is the Alzheimer’s Association, which also celebrates November as National Family Caregivers Month.