Issue Date: October 17, 2008
City: Morgantown, WV
Every 72 seconds another American develops Alzheimer’s disease, and those figures are projected to double by mid-century. Other statistics are just as startling. From 2000 to 2004, as the number of deaths from other diseases fell by up to 10% in some cases, deaths from Alzheimer’s rose 32%.
An especially cruel disease, Alzheimer’s takes away the sufferer’s memory and mind before it takes the body. In the late stages, patients may loose the ability to walk, speak, or care for themselves in any way.
Alzheimer’s was first identified by German physician Alois Alzheimer in the early 1900s. When his patient, Auguste D., died of an unidentified disease in her early 50s, Dr. Alzheimer performed an autopsy. It revealed the woman’s brain had shrunken dramatically, and had deposits the physician had never seen before. One hundred years later, with 5 million Americans afflicted, there is still no treatment to stop the deterioration of brain cells in Alzheimer’s patients.
In 2008, the U.S.Postal Service issued a new stamp in its Social Awareness Series highlighting the importance of caregivers to Alzheimer’s patients. As Postmaster General John Potter explained, “With the Alzheimer’s Awareness commemorative stamp, we’ll ask Americans to use the power of mail to raise awareness about this tragic disease.”