To the Editor:
Congress just passed the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act with a strong bipartisan vote. Now that BOLD is law, I want to thank Congressman William Keating for championing this meaningful legislation. The BOLD Act will allow effective Alzheimer’s public health interventions to be implemented across the country. Thanks to the Congressman’s support for BOLD, we will now be able to fight this devastating disease as we continue to work towards our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. I am confident he will continue to prioritize this disease as a public health crisis that must be addressed. I have the honor of serving as Alzheimer’s Ambassador to Congressman Keating. He has consistently supported all our legislative requests and understands the need for the support of the U.S. Congress in aggressively fighting this devastating disease.
Every 65 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s Disease. It is the 6th leading cause of death. Over 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s; 130,000 of them live in Massachusetts. There is no prevention, no effective treatment, and no cure. Alzheimer’s ends the lives of more people than prostrate and breast cancer combined. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures by 2050 the total cost of care for Alzheimer’s is projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion. The report also revealed that Alzheimer’s-related costs soared to $277 billion in the last year, including $186 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Passage of the BOLD Act underscores how elected officials are working together to address Alzheimer’s as a public health crisis – not just from a funding standpoint, but also from a caregiver standpoint. Most caregivers are unpaid family members.
I understand what this illness does to the individual and the family because my partner was diagnosed in 2008. She died in 2015. For 8.5 years I watched an intelligent, energetic woman gradually disappear until she could no longer care for herself, could not speak, could not eat solid food. I am not certain she knew who I was, but I believe she knew I was the person who loved her and was there for her every day. I don’t want others to have to face the toll this horrible disease takes on a family.
In Massachusetts we are fortunate to have the support of our federal and state legislators in this fight. By applying a public heath approach to reduce risk, detect early symptoms and advance care Congressman Keating is helping to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s. To learn more about Alzheimer’s and how you can join the fight to end this disease visit alz.org.
Barbara A. Meehan
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