For quite a few years my father was the caregiver for my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. They are both gone now. But I can remember how hard it was for him to take care of her. My sons and I helped when we could. Other Washingtonians who attended the recent Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C., tell us it’s encouraging to know we are making progress in the fight against this disease and other dementia.
Having had a mother, an aunt, and my former mother-in-law go through this I feel very strongly about the importance of Alzheimer’s research, care planning for people following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and palliative and hospice care for patients in all stages of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive disease in America, costing more than $236 billion in 2016. Since none of the care provided slows the disease’s progression, precious lives and scarce resources are simply vanishing. To increase annual funding for National Institutes of Health research on Alzheimer’s-currently just below $1 billion-is a crucial investment. The Senate Appropriations Committee has just approved a bill adding $400 million to that figure. The House should do the same.
For those diagnosed early, well-informed financial, legal and medical planning drastically improves a dementia patient’s quality of life. For those in end stages, focusing on symptom management and reduction of pain and stress reduces unnecessary hospitalizations sparing families trauma while saving public funds.
Congressman Rick Larsen, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have been very supportive of Alzheimer’s legislation, which is outlined at www.alz.org/advocate. I urge them to add $400 million for Alzheimer’s research and also to cosponsor H.R. 3119/S. 2748, which will increase the availability of palliative care and hospice providers.
Barbara A. Hatt