Some Conservatives, Liberals Unite to Call for Fight Against Alzheimer's

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Today I saw a first (at least in quite a while). I was tooling around the Internet and came across a New York Times’ Bloggingheads video featuring a liberal (David Corn of Mother Jones) and a conservative (James Pinkerton of Fox News). And guess what??? They actually agreed that President Obama should take a stand much like the one that President John F. Kennedy took in the 1960s on sending a man to the moon. However, these two pundits believed that stopping Alzheimer’s disease needs to be the focus this type of gargantuan effort.

    That’s because this disease is a looming tsunami waiting to engulf this nation (my words, not the pundits, although I think they would agree with me). The Alzheimer’s Association projects that unless something is done, 13.5 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s in 2050. (Currently, 5.1 million Americans age 65 and over have the disease.) Today, providing care for loved ones with dementia has a societal cost of $172 million, including $122 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. The unpaid care currently provided by nearly 11 million caregivers to loved ones with dementia is valued at $144 billion. Now just do the math and see what potentially is going to happen in 2050!

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    The Alzheimer’s Association is currently encouraging the U.S. Congress to pass the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which would:

    • Launch a campaign within the federal government to overcome Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Create a National Alzheimer’s Disease Plan.
    • Update and report the National Plan to Congress annually.
    • Establish an inter-agency Advisory Council to coordinate and evaluate all federal efforts related to Alzheimer’s research, care, institutional services, and home- and community-based programs.
    • Accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt, or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Ensure the inclusion of racial populations at higher risk for developing the disease.

    (You can send your support to your senator via email by clicking here.)

    The Alzheimer’s Association notes that 10 countries currently are ahead of the United States since they have or are in the process of developing a national plan to deal with Alzheimer’s. These countries include Australia, Norway, France, England, Scotland, India, Malta, Cyprus, Wales, and South Korea (which was featured recently in an excellent New York Times article).

    And actually, some of U.S. states have made more progress than the federal government in planning. For instance, 12 states (including Louisiana, New York, Illinois, and Oklahoma) already have published a state Alzheimer’s plan. Sixteen states (including three of the most populous states, California, Florida and Texas) have established a task force to develop this type of plan. Seven states (including Pennsylvania, Maine, and West Virginia) have legislation pending or are working with the executive branch to establish a State Alzheimer’s Plan Task Force. And only seven states (including Arizona, Ohio, and Kansas) have not taken any activity toward this effort.

  • I believe that the liberals and conservatives of this country need to join together to support not only the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, but their state’s planning efforts. Having seen firsthand the challenges of caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and felt the economic impact in my own life, I cannot imagine that anyone would have qualms with being proactive at the national and state levels in order to stop this potential tsunami. I hope that all of our elected officials (both current and incoming) are doing their homework so they understand what we’re all facing.

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Published On: December 02, 2010