More than 5 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Care costs, which include Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care and hospice, are around $203 billion. In today’s political climate, a lot of posturing surrounds budgets and spending. But it’s more than money that’s driving some politicians toward advocacy in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Bond
For better or worse, Alzheimer’s creates a bond. Sons, daughter, spouses and other family members who’ve watched a loved one deteriorate from the disease become connected. In the political realm, the voices of those touched by this disease have inspired action and advocacy.
People who’ve told their stories to political leaders have made an impact, especially on politicians who’ve also had a loved with Alzheimer’s. But more research dollars are needed, meaning more politicians are needed to support the cause.
Advocates for Alzheimer’s Research
Progress has been made on the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. However, Alzheimer’s still comes and goes on the list of priorities in Washington, D.C. Many blame a lack of funding; others the stigma attached to Alzheimer’s. Too many people still don’t want to talk about it. But talking generates support.
Here are four legislators who have listened and actively promote the importance of Alzheimer’s research and funding.
- Barbara Mikulski (Senator, Maryland): Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Mikulski fought for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the BRAIN Initiative. Aimed at helping scientists better understand how the brain works, this research initiative will open new avenues in the fight against Alzheimer’s and related diseases.
- Tom Harkin (Senator, Iowa): A staunch supporter of biomedical research, Harkin has been outspoken on the need for direct funding of NIH research. He also helped establish the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which provides financial support to family caregivers.
- Erik Paulsen (Representative, Minnesota): A co-sponsor of the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act, Paulsen is committed to supporting research that will help end Alzheimer’s.
- Jerry Moran (Senator, Kansas): The Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Moran has been a proponent of Alzheimer’s research, emphasizing how research investments today save costs for the future.
Tell Your Alzheimer’s Story to Washington, D.C.
The Alzheimer’s Association encourages people to contact their senators and representatives to voice their support for Alzheimer’s research. Without that support, it becomes too easy for legislators to ignore the urgency of an Alzheimer’s cure.
Have you influenced a politician to support a cause? Please share your story.