Advocates at the 25th annual Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum paused during a day of visits with members of Congress to attend a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.
The National Plan, released in May 2012, is the country’s first comprehensive approach to the Alzheimer’s epidemic and includes a goal to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.The hearing, “Are We on Track for 2025?,” examined the plan one year after its creation and the resources needed to accomplish its goals. It featured testimonies from expert witnesses, including Ashley Campbell, who spoke on behalf of her father, country music legend Glen Campbell. Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011.
Senate Aging Committee Ranking Member Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) welcomed a room filled with advocates, sharing her personal experience with Alzheimer’s and her concerns about the disease’s estimated trajectory.
“As someone whose family has experienced the pain of Alzheimer’s time and time again, I know there is no more helpless feeling then to watch the progression of this devastating disease,” Collins said. “An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, more than double the number in 1980. Based on the current trajectory, more than 16 million Americans over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.”
Collins also outlined her vision for the National Alzheimer’s Plan.
“If we fail to change the current trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease, our country will face not only a mounting national health care crisis, but an economic one as well,” she said. “The National Alzheimer’s Plan, which will be updated annually, will help us to focus our efforts and accelerate our progress toward better treatments, a means of prevention and ultimately, even a cure.”
Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), chairman of the committee, shared his thoughts on the Alzheimer’s epidemic and his appreciation for advocates’ efforts on Capitol Hill.
“It is shocking that today 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s,” said Nelson. “And as the baby boomers age, this fact is going to confront us all the more. We are very grateful for your tireless efforts on behalf of this issue and for the Alzheimer’s Association.”
Ashley Campbell was the first to testify, re-accounting Glen’s diagnosis and their decision to launch a Glen Campbell goodbye tour, giving her father a chance to connect with family, friends and fans through music.
“Dad thought it was important for people to know you can keep doing what you love — that life doesn’t end right away when you get Alzheimer’s,” she said. “It was also so important for my dad to take action and help spread the word about the need to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.”
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Senate Hearing Addresses National Alzheimer’s Plan Progress