by Holly Higginson
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. In the early stages, symptoms are manageable but as the disease progresses over the course of several years, the person is unable to do the most simple of tasks without the assistance of a trained caregiver. Ultimately, someone with the disease will require intensive, around-the-clock assistance. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
Currently, an estimated 5.4 million people in America have Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in $183 billion dollars in annual costs to individuals, their insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid. We anticipate that the number of people with the disease will increase to 16 million by the year 2050 unless something is done to stop this costly and devastating disease.
In December 2010, Congress passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) which was quickly signed into law by the President; this legislation required the creation of a National strategic for Alzheimer’s disease and making it a National priority.
This past May, the first ever National Alzheimer’s Plan was released. The following are the major goals of the plan: To prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025; to enhance care quality and efficiency; to expand supports for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families; and to enhanced public awareness and engagement.
The above legislative actions have moved us closer to effectively managing the coming Alzheimer’s epidemic but these victories only mark the beginning of the sustained effort need to defeat this disease. People who care about this disease are needed to advocate for the cause and raise the funds necessary for research and local services to assist those living with Alzheimer’s.
Now is the time to get involved! Together, we will make a difference today and create hope for the future as we move forward to “a world without Alzheimer’s”.
How you can help today!
Form or join a team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s raising money to fund research and local services. There are three Walks in the West Michigan area:
Holland, Kollen Park, August 25, 2012, 9 a.m.
Greenville, Greenville Community Center, September 8, 2012, 10 a.m.
Grand Rapids, Millennium Park, September 29, 2012, 9 a.m.
To sign up or learn more visit http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk/MI-GreaterMichigan?pg=entry&fr_id=1738