Letter to the Editor

Fighting Alzheimer’s disease: We cannot lose any ground

Thursday, March 9, 2017

As we enter the start of a new Congress and a new Administration, I will be looking for leaders on Capitol Hill to maintain our progress in the fight to end Alzheimer’s because we cannot afford to lose any ground.

Person with the disease (intro/background): I am advocating as a family member and friend to the estimated 5 million Americans and estimated 110,000 Tennesseans that are living with, and I believe that our state and nation face no public health issue more critical than Alzheimer’s disease. I have been a family caregiver and professional caregiver of victims living with Alzheimer’s beginning in 1994 to currently and have experienced firsthand the emotional and financial toll of this devastating disease. Per a 2016 election eve survey conducted by Lake Research Partners, 89% of respondents favored or strongly favored “increasing federal investments in medical research for Alzheimer’s disease.” Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America, costing an estimated $236 billion in 2016 – with more than half of that coming from Medicare and Medicaid. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by mid-century, the number of people with the disease is set to nearly triple, and the costs of Alzheimer’s disease are projected to more than quadruple to $1.1 trillion.

Despite the sobering statistics, I feel a great deal of hope in our battle against this disease. The fight against Alzheimer’s has been a source of unity among Democrats and Republicans. Congress came together to pass the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act of 2014 and, in 2015, Congress passed a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Importantly, a $400 million increase was pending before the 114th Congress for FY17, and will now need action by the 115th Congress. That’s a great place for Democrats and Republicans to come together to start the new year with hope and optimism for the millions of Americans living with and affected by this disease.

I want Representative Dr. Scott DesJarlais to prioritize this action on Alzheimer’s disease and I encourage my fellow Tennesseans to remind President Trump and Congress of their commitment to continue the progress we’ve made against this disease. • Visit ALZ.org for more information and to get involved.