More than 5 million American adults have Alzheimer’s disease and it is the fourth leading cause of death in adults. Given the increase in the elderly population, it is anticipated that the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease will increase dramatically, perhaps to as many as 16 million nationally by 2050.
A large survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that 13 percent of Americans aged 60 and older reported worsening memory loss or confusion in the previous year, highlighting the need to be alert for early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
80 percent of these seniors said they required regular assistance, but only half were able to receive help from a friend or family caregiver. Furthermore, only 32.6 percent of those who reported functional difficulties due to memory loss said they had discussed their symptoms with a health care provider.
In July 2013, the US Senate Appropriations Committee took an important step to address the rapidly expanding Alzheimer’s epidemic. Senate leaders from both parties spoke to the importance of investing now to address the skyrocketing costs of this devastating disease.
The Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies voted to include $104 million for Alzheimer’s disease in its fiscal year 2014 funding bill. And earlier today the full Senate Appropriations Committee also voted to support this increased funding for essential research and caregiver support.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the subcommittee and honoree at this year’s Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum, referred to Alzheimer’s disease research as a “crucial investment” that’s a priority “on both sides of the aisle.” The chairman urged swift consideration of the bill by the full Senate. His thoughts were echoed by other Senators including Ranking Member Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the full committee.
Later this year the full U.S. Senate may have the opportunity to vote on this legislation. Please ask your Senators to support this crucial funding!