Oklahoma health leaders set sights on fighting Alzheimer’s disease


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Officials say more than 1,700 Oklahomans die from Alzheimer’s disease each year.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Eventually, it limits the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older.

Currently, nearly 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Current projections indicate that the number of people with the disease will nearly triple in the next 35 years.

The warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease are as follows:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems 
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks  
  4. Confusion with time or place 
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships 
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing 
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps 
  8. Decreased or poor judgement 
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities 
  10. Changes in mood or personality 

Now, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is forming a new statewide coalition to address key issues related to Alzheimer’s disease in the Sooner State.

“Oklahoma is working to build a better infrastructure to assist caregivers or someone living with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Morgan Fitzgerald, MPH, Oklahoma Healthy Brain Program Manager. “We have a strong core group of professionals engaged in the coalition now, and are looking to add individuals who have provided care – or are currently providing care – for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, as well as those who have been diagnosed with the disease themselves.” 

The Oklahoma Healthy Brain Initiative Coalition is a collaborative effort to advance public awareness action related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias as a public health issue in Oklahoma.

The group’s first task will be to update the 2018-2022 Oklahoma State Plan to address Alzheimer’s disease. 

Anyone interested in joining The Oklahoma Healthy Brain Initiative Coalition should email Morgan Fitzgerald at morgan.fitzgerald@health.ok.gov for more information.

There is growing scientific evidence that healthy behaviors, which have been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease may also reduce risk for cognitive decline and possibly dementia. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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