There are currently 5.2 million Americans living with Alzheimer's, and sadly, as the baby-boomer generation gets older, those numbers are projected to triple to 13.8 million within the next 35 years.
For the many who will inevitably have a spouse or parent show signs of the disease, the question becomes, how do you bring the topic up?
With no current medications available to treat or prevent Alzheimer's, it may be scary, but Dr. Richard Caselli with the Mayo Clinic says it's important not to ignore potential warning signs.
"The reason we should worry about it, is it's not always Alzheimer's," Caselli said.
If a loved one is suddenly becoming more forgetful, there is a possibility the fix may be simple.
For example, sometimes if a person is on too many medications, adjusting them can help brain function.
Another possibility, "We live in an area where valley fever is a common problem," Caselli said. "Rarely that can get into the central nervous system and cause a form of what's called chronic meningitis, which can affect us cognitively and can be fixed."
Of course, a visit to the doctor's office is the only way to be sure.
How do you know when it's time to see a doctor?
If you start to see a pattern of forgetfulness over an extended period of time.
If you do have a conversation with a loved one, and they seem to be in denial or unaware of changes in their memory pattern, Dr. Caselli said that may actually be a manifestation of Alzheimer's.
There's actually a medical term for it. It's called "anosognosia."
"Some people have, as a manifestation of their dementia, a type of what seems like personality change where they actually deny there’s anything wrong with them," Caselli said.
Researchers are intensely looking into ways to treat Alzheimer's, slow it down, or find ways to reverse symptoms.
Meanwhile, there is no fool-proof way to predict whether you'll have the disease. However, there are some genetic tests that can show you your relative risk.