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One In Six Women Over 60 Will Face Alzheimer's

March 19, 2014, 6:29 PM by Sammi Bjelland

One In Six Women Over 60 Will Face Alzheimer's

17,000 South Dakotans are living with Alzheimer's disease.

While there are no cures, the South Dakota Alzheimer's Association believes research is the key to a cure.

Alzheimer's disease is the fifth leading cause of death in the state.  South Dakota's Alzheimer death is the second highest in the nation.

One in 11 men over 60 will face the disease. So will one in six women

"Women, once they hit the age of 65, they are twice as likely to get Alzheimer's disease as they are to get breast cancer," Leslie Morrow, SD Alzheimer's Association State Executive Director said.

The Alzheimer's Association works with families who are coping with the disease, free of charge. They offer consultations and support groups.

Floyd Heinemann got active in those groups when his wife was diagnosed.

"Started noticing that she would ask questions more than once. She probably would say things more than once. She would do something and then go back and do it over," Heinemann said.

Floyd's wife Isabel battled the disease for over 8 years. She lost her battle shortly after her 80th birthday.

"Wednesday morning I got down next to her ear, because she had been wanting to go home all this time. I said mom, if you want to go home it's ok. So she did," Heinemann said.

Floyd says one of the hardest parts, was watching his wife struggle with daily tasks.

It's one of many signs that a loved one could be facing the disease.

"Maybe they have new problems speaking or writing that they've never had before. Misplacing things and they can't then retrace their steps. We all lose our car keys occasionally, but when they can't retrace where they've been that's also another indicator," Morrow said.

Floyd hopes by volunteering with the Alzheimer's Association's annual race and sharing his wife's story, future generations won't have to deal with the pain he's faced.

His hope is that with more research and funding, his kids won't have the same outcome of their mom.

"I've had cancer. Prostate cancer. But I knew I had a chance. And I beat it. She got Alzheimer's, no chance. No chance at all," Heinemann said.

You can donate to the Alzheimer's Association and find out more about the "Walk To End Alzheimer's" in September, at their website.

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