Investigative journalist Greg O'Brien suffers from Alzheimer's disease. He is documenting the course of his illness in the hopes that greater understanding will help to lead to a cure.
Alzheimer's disease runs in Greg O'Brien's family. He lost a grandmother, his mother, and an uncle to the disease and now he also has it. O'Brien, however, is not a normal victim of the disease.
He is an investigative journalist with the experience to document his disease as he writes in the Washington Post column "I'm documenting my own Alzheimer's disease while I still can."
O'Brien has written a book about his illness and has been featured in a PBS documentary. He hopes that by bringing increased awareness to how the disease affects its victims he might get even with it and help lead to a cure.
As O'Brien points out in his column, there are currently 5 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease. Treatment costs total some $200 billion a year. If current trends continue there could be a public health crisis as treatment for Alzheimer's could reach $1 trillion per year by 2050.
That would cause great strain on already cash-strapped Medicare and Medicaid systems.
The good news is that doctors are making progress in their understanding of the disease. In some cases, potential victims can be diagnosed as early as 40 years old giving them plenty of time in most cases to make plans for their care.
Hopefully, this increased understanding of how the disease works will eventually lead to a cure.
Reference: Washington Post (April 13, 2016) "I'm documenting my own Alzheimer's disease while I still can."