Mid-Missouri organizations raising awareness about Alzheimer's

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Capital Region Medical Center is hosting an Alzheimer's awareness workshop Wednesday in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Association. The workshop focuses on early diagnosis and detection. 

According to data from the Alzheimer's Association, 110,000 people in Missouri have Alzheimer's. That number is projected to increase to 130,000 during the next decade as more 'baby boomers' age and physicians diagnose patients more accurately. The 18.2 percent increase in Alzheimer's in Missouri is below the projected national increase of 40 percent in the same time period. Joetta Coen said she thinks increased awareness is a part of Missouri's smaller percentage increase.

"We know that more and more people are aware of Alzheimer's," Coen said. "They are willing to talk about Alzheimer's, willing to support research and be more aware."

Coen said even though physicians are better at diagnosing patients, about half of the population affected by Alzheimer's has never received a formal diagnosis. 

The government has allocated more funds to Alzheimer's research since 2012. Coen said it is important for researchers to get "in front of the disease" to find early symptoms and determine how Alzheimer's affects a person. 

"We know that Alzheimer's begins in the brain up to 20 years prior to the first symptoms," Coen said. "We look at what's going on when the first brain cells are beginning to be affected."

Coen said she hopes information sessions like the one Wednesday afternoon will continue to build awareness and lead to early detection of the disease.