The Department of Health & Human Services recently released their first major update to the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. The Plan went into effect in May, setting a lofty national goal of effectively treating or preventing Alzheimer’s by the year 2025.
12 Month Progress Check of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s
This is just the beginning, but notable progress was made in the first year. Highlights of accomplishments include:
- Launch of http://www.alzheimers.gov, a very well received website designed to increase awareness and connect those effected by Alzheimer’s to resources that can help them.
- Funding of multiple research projects, including two new major clinical trials.
- Grants issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration to help provide training to over 10,000 health care providers. Topics range from dementia diagnosis to behavior management for dementia patients.
- National Institutes of Health convened a group of international experts for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention. The panel developed recommendations on how to effectively advance research.
- Meeting of funders held at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. The goal was to understand global Alzheimer’s research endeavors, leverage resources, avoid duplication of efforts, and increase collaboration at an international level.
What We Can Expect Next
In addition to outlining the year’s successes, the June 2013 update sets forth measures and milestones for determining whether the plan is on track for reaching its goal. It also calls for:
- Development of an Alzheimer’s curriculum for primary care physicians to help them provide the highest quality of dementia care.
- Expanded detection of elder abuse among Alzheimer’s patients through aging networks and Alzheimer’s program providers.
- Assembly of an expert panel to study the unique needs of those in the late stages of the disease.
- Expanded public outreach and development of an enhanced Dementia Capability Toolkit to help state and local health networks provide dementia services in their areas.
- Release of the second in a series of roadmaps intended to advance cognitive health as a vital part of overall public health.
To say we face a mammoth task would be a gross understatement. Did you know that for every $27,000 Medicare and Medicaid spend on Alzheimer’s care, the National Institutes of Health spend only $100 on research. The 2013 update also shines a spotlight on the recent RAND study concluding that costs related to Alzheimer’s exceed those related to cancer and heart disease. The fact remains, unless we find a way to cure or delay the disease, estimates project it will cost the United States a staggering $1 trillion annually by 2050.
On the international front, when the G8 met this month to discuss major economic issues, Alzheimer’s Disease was on the agenda. Realizing the monumental economic burden that comes with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, British Prime Minister David Cameron is encouraging establishment of a global agenda to address the matter.
Be an Advocate
Sometimes when the looming issue is as overwhelming in size and scope as this one, we feel that we as individuals can’t make a difference. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Each of us has the ability and responsibility to do our part to raise awareness and advocate for the resources needed to meet the 2025 goal. One great advocacy resource we all have at our fingertips is USAgainstAlzheimers. Register with them and receive the latest news as well as opportunities to voice your opinions to lawmakers.
What are your thoughts on the National Plan? Do you think 2025 is an achievable goal for effectively treating or preventing Alzheimer’s? We’d like to hear your opinions.