CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As more people in West Virginia and the U.S. are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, members of a local Alzheimer's Association chapter are calling for more government funding for research.
By 2025, West Virginia is expected to have 50,000 Alzheimer's patients over the age of 65, up from 44,000 in 2010, according to the latest state Alzheimer's statistics released Tuesday from the Alzheimer's Association.
The aging of Baby Boomers is one reason for the increase, said Jane Marks, executive director of the West Virginia Alzheimer's Association.
"Age is the greatest risk factor," Marks said, while adding that it's not the only factor. "So that definitely is one of the reasons we're seeing the increase."
A "huge part of our population" will be entering that age of greatest risk, Marks said.
She wants state residents to call their congressional representative and ask that more funding be allocated to Alzheimer's research. A 2012 plan to address the disease called for a dramatic increase in funding, but that hasn't happened yet, she said.
The Alzheimer's Association occasionally holds fundraisers for research. She encouraged people to take part.
"We are the largest private funder of Alzheimer's research in the world," Marks said. "We like to say we push for it, we enhance it, and we help promote it."
The association's vision is to see the end of the disease, which will only come with research, Marks said.
One in three seniors in the U.S. die with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. While deaths from HIV/AIDS, stroke, heart disease and other major diseases are decreasing, Alzheimer's deaths have risen 68 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the latest statistics.
Alzheimer's puts a significant burden on the families and caregivers of patients, Marks said.