At a recent support group meeting, a caregiver shared with me how it was that she realized something wasn’t right with her beloved husband. An avid Gamecocks fan, he could no longer remember the statistics he had rattled off to anyone who would listen for the past 20 years. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the young age of 48. Today, he does not even recognize a football.

If that story surprises you, you’re not alone. A very common misperception about Alzheimer’s disease is that it’s a normal part of aging — that it only happens to the very old. Well, the good news for all of us is that Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of growing older. The bad news, though, is that none are immune from this progressive neurological disease. Age is the greatest known risk factor, but it’s certainly not the only factor. As many as 500,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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