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“We must initiate a global conversation about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias”, says Senator Bill Nelson of Florida

alzheimer 's disease.
Alzheimer ‘s disease.

On June 5, 2014 Senator Bill Nelson of Florida asked for and was granted permission to address the United States Senate for a few minutes regarding Alzheimer’s disease and Brain Awareness Month:

“Madam President, I recognize this June as the inaugural Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s remains one of our Nation’s leading causes of death, and the number of diagnoses is expected to triple by 2050–resulting in 16 million Americans over the age of 65 living with Alzheimer’s. Today, one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, in my home of State of Florida, 480,000 residents over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s, and the number is project to rise to 720,000 by 2050.

Given these staggering numbers, it is important we focus our resources to address this disease as outlined in the National Alzheimer’s Plan, a roadmap for confronting Alzheimer’s and dementia. The National Alzheimer’s Plan is released annually and outlines steps the government should pursue in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Last year, the Special Committee on Aging, for which I am privileged to serve as chairman, held a hearing to assess the progress made in combatting Alzheimer’s disease and examined the first year of the National Alzheimer’s Plan as it continues its ongoing efforts to find an effective treatment by 2025.

This June, the first Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, we must initiate a global conversation about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Despite the prevalence of the disease, it is still widely misunderstood. The Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research, is working to reduce stigma surrounding the illness, promote education on the realities of the disease, and help promote research to end Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association is also encouraging Americans to “Go Purple”–the color of the Alzheimer’s movement to fight Alzheimer’s disease and promote public awareness of this month’s mission.

Recently, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, AFA, released a cost analysis report of the caregiver provisions in the 2012 National Alzheimer’s Plan. The AFA works to ensure the best care and services are available to improve quality of life for individuals confronting Alzheimer’s disease. I believe that the work of the AFA and other Alzheimer’s advocacy organizations is increasingly important as we continually work to improve the care and well-being for those living with Alzheimer’s disease while also improving the quality of life for caregivers and family members as they care for their loved ones.

AFA’s recent report, “Cost of Care: Quantifying Care-Centered Provisions of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease,” evaluates the costs and benefits associated with implementation of coordinated care delivery models, transitional care programs, and expanded caregiver supports in the 2012 National Alzheimer’s Plan. AFA found that implementation of these caregiver provisions provide significant cost savings while promoting better health outcomes for those living with Alzheimer’s disease by reducing hospital readmissions and emergency room visits and delaying nursing home placement. The enactment of these provisions could result in Federal savings that exceed $110 billion over 10 years.

I am well aware of the hardships for those living with this disease and their loved ones. I hear frequently from my constituents about the importance of continuing to appropriate research dollars for Alzheimer’s research and the necessity of making Alzheimer’s a national priority. For example, Jeff from Palm Beach Gardens has been caring for his mother for the last 5 years as her disease slowly progresses. And Heather of Winter Park, who wrote to me last October, shared the heartbreaking “loss and grief that comes slowly and constantly” with her mother’s illness and the mourning for the person her mother was before her diagnosis. The work to improve care services for those living with Alzheimer’s as well as support services for their loved ones is a growing necessity as our Nation’s population ages and the number of individuals confronting the disease dramatically increases over the coming decades”, said Senator Nelson (source: Congressional Record http://thomas.loc.gov/).

Sen. Bill Nelson serves on five committees, they include the following:

1) Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging

2) Senior members on the Committee on Armed Services,

3) Senior member on the Budget Committee

4) Senior member on the Committee on Commerce, ScFinanceTransportation

5) Senior member on the Committee on Finance.

See related video: What is Alzheimer’s disease http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wv9jrk-gXc

See also: NIH: Unraveling the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzkQyWpu10E