“North Dakota’s sparse geography has long made it a natural frontier: Pioneers here pushed the boundaries of westward expansion, then agriculture, and recently domestic oil drilling. Now the state finds itself on the leading edge of a new boom that it never would have chosen: Alzheimer’s disease.
“Cases are rocketing up across the United States, and especially in North Dakota, which has the country’s second highest death rate from the disease. While Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death nationally, it already ranks third here.
“‘Everybody knows somebody’ affected by the disease, said Kendra Binger, a program manager with the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota and North Dakota. As public awareness rises along with the numbers of cases, ‘it’s hard to ignore anymore.’”