Congress must help Alzheimer’s victims
On Wednesday, more than 800 people living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers and advocates from across the nation will gather in Washington, D.C., for the 26th annual Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum. Representing millions of people impacted by Alzheimer’s across the country, they will engage in the democratic process and appeal to members of Congress for action on Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, there are more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and 15.5 million Alzheimer’s caregivers. As an Alzheimer’s Ambassador, it is my honor to play a role in addressing this rapidly growing health crisis.
Just over a year ago, my father died from Alzheimer’s disease. For more than a decade leading up to his death, my family and I watched a proud man, wonderful father and grandfather deteriorate into a state that can only be described as cruel and unforgiving.
This disease took the man who spent hours visiting the children and families at Golisano Children’s Hospital as Sir Holly the clown to someone who needed 24-hour care in a nursing home for over 6 years. Eleven years ago, I also saw Alzheimer’s take my mother-in-law from us much too early and much too quickly. The horrors inflicted by Alzheimer’s cannot be understated.
In addition to the human toll, Alzheimer’s is the most expensive condition in the nation, costing $214 billion a year. Nearly one in every $5 spent by Medicare is on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only cause of death among the top 10 without a way to prevent, stop or even slow its progression. If we could eliminate Alzheimer’s tomorrow, we could save half a million lives every year.
It is only through adequate funding and a strong implementation of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease that we will meet its goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.
During this week, call Sen. Charles Schumer and ask him to make Alzheimer’s disease a national priority.
Bruce A. Holroyd, a Rochester resident, is the Alzheimer’s Association Ambassador to Sen. Schumer.