For a long time Alzheimer’s disease was in the Shadows. Alzheimer’s disease was often overlooked, ignored and not talked about. All of that recently changed with the Obama administrations new plan to move Alzheimer’s disease out of the shadows and making it a national priority.
The first thing the Obama administration did was enact the bipartisan National Alzheimer’s Project Act. This act created an expert advisory council on Alzheimer’s to advise the U.S Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) on how to reduce the burden of the disease on the people affected by the disease, their caregivers and the families of people who have a loved one affected by the disease. The act also calls on the council to advise HHS in the creation of a national strategy that will guide our fight against Alzheimer’s.
The Obama administration has set a goal of effectively treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. To obtain this goal the Obama administration took a historic step this February by committing $156 million dollars to combat Alzheimer’s disease.
According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum this past week $50 million dollars has been moved to the National Institute of Health for research to identify effective treatments, delay of disease progression, and ultimately preventing the disease altogether. $80 million dollars has been proposed by the Obama administration for next year’s budget and $26 million dollars has been allocated for the next two years on education, outreach and an awareness campaign aimed to help people affected by the disease and their caregivers learn about resources that can help them manage the disease.
The Obama administration has lifted the ban on embryonic stem cell research, which will open the door to new Alzheimer’s treatments. The Obama administrations passing of the affordable care act which strengthens Medicare helping doctors improve care coordination and makes screenings for Alzheimer’s disease available at no cost to the beneficiaries.
Today over 5.1 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and it’s the only one among the top ten without a way to cure, prevent or slow the progression of the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association unless something is done by 2050 the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s could grow to 16 million. This is a national public health crisis and we must act now to prevent this.
Last year I lost my Grandmother Esther Goldberg to this terrible disease. I only wish that other Presidential administrations would have taken the steps that the Obama administration has taken to combat this disease. Maybe then my Grandmother would have lived long enough to see the disease cured or prevented. If we continue to work together, I am confident that one day we will find a cure for this disease and nobody will ever have to face the horrors that my family faced with my Grandmothers illness. I will be voting to re-elect President Barack Obama this fall because the steps that his administration has taken to move Alzheimer’s disease out of the shadows and into the light. I hope you will all join me in doing the same.
Matthew Silverstein is the Democratic State Committeeman for the 26th AD and is the 2nd Vice President of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance