Heartbreaking disease

Alzheimer’s stamp artwork

The Postal Service released a semipostal stamp Nov. 30 to fund research to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a leading cause of death in the United States.

More than 5.3 million Americans age 65 or older are estimated to have Alzheimer’s, which destroys the minds of those affected and challenges family members and caregivers.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Symptoms include memory loss, problems with speech and language, an inability to perform familiar tasks, trouble interpreting visual images and personality changes.

The disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, a German physician who discovered it in 1906.

Alzheimer’s is one of the nation’s 10 leading causes of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of people who have the disease is expected to rise as the population ages.

The price of the Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp includes the First-Class Mail single-piece postage rate in effect at the time of purchase, plus an amount to fund Alzheimer’s research.

By law, revenue from sales of the Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp — minus the postage paid and the reimbursement of reasonable costs incurred by the Postal Service — will be distributed to the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The stamp artwork is an illustration that first appeared on the 2008 Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp. It shows an older woman with a hand on her shoulder, the suggestion of sunlight behind her and clouds ahead and below.

She faces right on the new stamp to help distinguish it from the earlier release, which showed her facing left.

The stamp is available at usps.com and Post Offices.