Letter to The Editor

Alzheimer’s disease is national public health crisis

There are more than 110,000 living with Alzheimer’s disease in our state and more than 348,000 family members and friends are acting as unpaid caregivers.

Fellow Washingtonians who joined the more than 1,200 attendees at the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement Advocacy Forum in Washington, DC, said Congress was listening to their explanation of the burden that Alzheimer’s places on our state and nation.

This advocacy is important to me because I lost my father to the disease in 2016 and I know the heavy burden that families carry.  My daughter and I now bring awareness to this disease and offer support whenever we can.

Legislators were asked to continue to increase funding for Alzheimer’s disease research at the National Institutes of Health, as well as fund implementation of the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act which Congress passed into law last year.

Shockingly only 1% of Medicare beneficiaries with dementia have received a personal care plan available to them since 2017. Advocates asked members of Congress to cosponsor the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, new legislation that will give doctors information about how they can develop a care plan for each of their patients.

 Alzheimer’s is not only the sixth leading cause of death in the country, it ranks as America’s most expensive disease, with total costs nationwide surpassing $290 billion in 2019, two-thirds of which is paid by Medicare and Medicaid. It is only through adequately funding research and enacting reforms like the Improving HOPE Act that we can meet the national goal to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.

Please join me in urging Congressman Newhouse to continue to invest in policies that address Alzheimer’s disease as the national public health crisis it is.

Valerie Halvorson

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