An investigative journalist at the Washington Post has Alzheimer’s disease and is documenting his own illness through his writing.

Investigative journalist Greg O’Brien, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is documenting his own disease in the Washington Post column “I’m documenting my own Alzheimer’s disease while I still can.” The disease, which runs in O’Brien’s family, has claimed his grandmother, his mother and an uncle.

O’Brien has written a book about his illness and has been featured in a PBS documentary. He hopes that by bringing increased awareness to how the disease affects its victims he might get even with it and help lead to a cure.

As O’Brien points out in his column, there are currently 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment costs total some $200 billion a year. If current trends continue there could be a public health crisis as treatment for Alzheimer’s could reach $1 trillion per year by 2050.

That would cause great strain on already cash-strapped Medicare and Medicaid systems.

The good news is that doctors are making progress in their understanding of the disease. In some cases, potential victims can be diagnosed as early as 40 years old giving them plenty of time in most cases to make plans for their care.

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