Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

November 12, 2012

Alzheimer’s must become U.S. priority

Caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can create a great strain on families, the health care system and the federal budget, therefore we must fight to make Alzheimer’s a national priority.

Alzheimer’s is a growing crisis that is expected to cost our country $20 trillion over the next 40 years. Nearly 60 percent of this cost will be absorbed by Medicare.

By finding a treatment that could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by just five years, it is projected that Medicare costs on those with Alzheimer’s would be reduced by 45 percent in 2050.

Due to this growing crisis, President Obama signed into law the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), which calls for the creation of a national Alzheimer’s plan.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is a progressive disease in which the symptoms gradually worsen over time.

In the early stages symptoms may be mild, but as Alzheimer’s progresses the individual loses the ability to carry on a conversation or respond to his or her environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and those with Alzheimer’s usually live an average of eight years after symptoms become noticeable.

Currently there is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and no treatment available to stop its progression.

We as a nation must take action and urge our congress to make Alzheimer’s a national priority.

In May of this year, the first National Alzheimer’s plan was released. In support of the plan, the president’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal includes $100 million in additional funding for research, awareness, education and outreach and caregiver support.

Please take action and support this plan by taking a few minutes and writing to your senator. We can help to save lives by making Alzheimer’s research a priority.

For more information visit the website: http://napa.alz.org or call 1.800.272.3900

Johnita Duff R.N.

Bluefield, Va.

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