To the Editor:
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the top 10 causes of death in America, but it’s also the only disease on that list for which there is no cure, no prevention and no way to even slow its progression.
An estimated 80,000 of our neighbors, family members and friends in Kentucky have Alzheimer’s, and that number is growing every day. But today, we can give them hope for more effective treatments. We can give their caregivers hope for more support. And we can give our children hope for prevention, and for a cure. Today, we can take part in an historic moment in the fight against this currently fatal disease, and help ensure that future generations do not have to face what our grandparents, parents, spouses and siblings are facing today.
For the first time, the United States has a long-term strategic plan, as required by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), with a goal of finding a way to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s by 2025. Reaching that goal is dependent on federal dollars, however, and the support of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers is critical.
The National Alzheimer’s Plan needs an additional $100 million in new resources to launch the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease. This funding request includes $80,000 for research, as well as funds for a public awareness campaign, provider education and outreach, and increased support for Alzheimer’s caregivers.
Currently, the government invests less than $500 million a year on Alzheimer’s research. Perhaps that sounds like a lot of money, but compare that amount to the $5.8 billion spent each year on research regarding cancer, $4.3 billion for heart disease and $3.1 billion for HIV/AIDS, according to data from the National Institutes of Health. The goals and funding requirements set out in NAPA reflect the high incidence of Alzheimer’s in the United States today, and the devastating price it exacts from American families.
Kentuckians can help ensure that NAPA is adequately funded by urging Rep. Rogers to lend his influential support to the President’s request for $100 million for NAPA in the fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill. Please let Rep. Rogers of your support for this funding: you can send him a letter at 2406 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, or call his office at 202-225-4601.
As families each and every day shoulder the tremendous emotional, physical and financial toll of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, they are anxiously awaiting strong implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Plan. Please join us in asking Chairman Rogers to use his leadership to make this happen.
It is rare that I have a conversation with someone who has not been touched by Alzheimer’s. Whether they personally struggle with the disease, or they know someone who does, it has touched their lives in a devastating way. If we can help ensure this critical additional funding for the National Alzheimer’s Plan - and thereby make a difference for one of the 80,000 Kentuckians who are struggling because of this disease, and the nearly 265,000 family members and friends who are caring for them - then we will have taken an important step in the fight against Alzheimer’s. And when we look back in 2025, I hope we can say that, because of our commitment, we conquered it.
Teri J Shirk
President & CEO Alzheimer’s Association
Greater Kentucky & Southern Indiana