Last updated: July 17. 2013 5:26PM - 110 Views

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Alzheimer's Awareness

In the United States, an estimated 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimers. It is a devastating disease affecting Americans across all walks of life. No two individuals are affected in the same way by Alzheimers, and no two families will be able to provide care in the same way.
Alzheimers is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth-leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. It is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.
In West Virginia, over 44,000 citizens have been diagnosed as Alzheimers patients, and this number is expected to grow to 50,000 by 2025. Starting this year, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65, meaning more families in West Virginia and across the nation will face this heartbreaking disease. The Generation Alzheimer's report estimates 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimers disease, and one in eight will either die with it or from it.
Living with and caring for a loved one afflicted by Alzheimer disease places tremendous burdens on families and caregivers. It can be financially crushing, and emotionally and physically exhausting.
Over 93,000 health care providers work with Alzheimers patients in our state, and thousands of family members become caregivers for loved ones. We must continue to pool our resources so that we can see a cure and improved treatments for Alzheimers before it takes hold of a generation.
According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, the cost of caring for those with Alzheimer's and other dementias will amount to $183 billion, with Medicare and Medicaid making up the overwhelming majority of these costs. Unless something is done, by 2050, the figure is expected to increase to reach $1.1 trillion.
The Alzheimers Association estimates that treatment which delays the onset of Alzheimers for five years, similar to the effect of drugs that regulate cholesterol in preventing heart disease, would save Medicare and Medicaid $362 billion by 2050. Additionally, developing a treatment that slows the progression of Alzheimers would save Medicare and Medicaid $180 billion by 2050.
I am proud to say that last December, I cosponsored the National Alzheimers Project Act, which will marshal resources across the Federal government to establish a national strategy to find a cure and improve treatments for Alzheimers.
This Congress, I am continuing my efforts with my co-sponsorship of two bills which focus on the Alzheimers patient and promote research into the disease: H.R. 1386, the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimers Act, and H.R. 610, the Making Investments Now for Dementia (MIND) Act.
H.R. 1386 aims to improve access to diagnosis, care planning, and medical record documentation for patients and their families. While the numbers of patients diagnosed with Alzheimers is growing, there are still a staggering number of people who have not been formally diagnosed. Without a proper diagnosis, these patients not only do not have access to the medical care they need, their families are then unable to get services to assist their family members. H.R. 610 would create a new form of U.S. Bonds to specifically fund Alzheimers research at the National Institutes of Health, creating a revenue stream, and thereby, increasing the focus on finding a cure for this disease.
These initiatives, fostered through advocacy by groups like the Alzheimers Association of West Virginia, must continue as we forge a path towards a cure for this debilitating disease.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) represents West Virginias 3rd District
For more information contact: Diane Luensmann (202) 225-3452.
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