Lifting the Veil Off Alzheimer’s Disease

Eric J. Hall Health Guide
  • For too long, there has been a veil covering Alzheimer's disease. We can point fingers at stigma, fear, denial and misperceptions. These and other factors have kept this brain disorder out of the nation's consciousness. It's kept this disease from receiving the attention-and the funding-that it deserves. Now is the time to change all that. Now is the time, because too many families are in the throes of Alzheimer's disease and too many families face it in the near future. Our aging baby boomers threaten to fuel the incidence of this disease to skyrocketing numbers.
    Our nation must get prepared for this health crisis of the 21st century. We must get American families prepared. Accomplishing this requires rallying all of us, policymakers and the public, behind the cause.

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    Policymakers have their chance to step forward. For one, deliberations are pending on the National Alzheimer's Project Act, an act that follows up on a key recommendation from the Alzheimer's Study Group in 2009. The act would create the country's first national office responsible for organizing efforts across the government to treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease. It would coordinate and oversee federal research on Alzheimer's disease to develop a plan to combat the disease and to eventually develop a cure.
    This past week, the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday voted the act through. We hope that a swift vote by the Senate and then the House follows.
    The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) had organized a letter signed by more than 100 organizations in support of the legislation. As the letter stated, "Doing so would signal to the American people that leaders in their government are ready to tackle this horrible disease head-on."
    This coming weekend, the public has their chance to step forward. AFA will be presenting the nation's first Alzheimer's disease telethon, "Together for Care." Airing on local NBC stations in major markets and telecast online nationally on AFA's Web site at www.alzfdn.org, this star-studded telecast is poised to focus millions and millions of eyes on this disease.
    By bringing Alzheimer's disease into American homes, our goal is to send a loud and clear message that we need to pay attention to Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. To families, we want them to know that help is available. And to donors, we will sound the call for their support to ensure that we can meet the increasing demand for help. Therein lies enormous hope-hope that each new day will ease some of the heartbreak of Alzheimer's disease.
    In addition, AFA is encouraging Americans to sign a petition posted on our Web site that urges President Obama and Congress to declare a "decade of care" for individuals with dementia and their families.
    "In the absence of a realistic short term prospect for a cure," the petition calls for "creating a comprehensive strategy that includes competent, cost-effective care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and support and training for their family caregivers." Specifically, it urges increased federal research funding, a national prevention and early detection plan, an expanded geriatrics workforce and training, creation of a seamless continuum of care, and training and respite care for family caregivers.

  • These are all important steps toward lifting the veil off Alzheimer's disease and rallying policymakers and the public together for care and cure.

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Published On: December 03, 2010