DENVER (CBS4) – The announcement that Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is suffering from Alzheimer’s pushed the disease into the spotlight Wednesday, but for many families, battling it is a quiet and private journey.

“Every individual and every family travels their own journey with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Jill Vitale-Assem, the executive director at Clermont Park Retirement Community, a facility that cares for patients. “I’m really hopeful this brave announcement will shine a light on the millions of people who are living with Alzheimer’s disease.”

There are a few drugs that help slow the progression, Dr. Benzi Kluger, an Alzheimer’s specialist with the University of Colorado Hospital, told CBS4. But “even in the best of circumstances, it’s a hard path to go down,” he said.

Little is known about Bowlen’s condition, other than Wednesday’s announcement and reports a few years ago of Bowlen suffering short-term memory problems.

“Pat has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer’s disease for the last few years,” Bowlen’s wife, Annabel, said in a statement.

Vitale-Assem says one in nine older adults has Alzheimer’s. There is no cure for the disease and it is always fatal.

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