Let's Work to Tackle Alzheimer's Disease

Let's Work to Tackle Alzheimer's Disease

09.05.12 | By

As part of our "From Hope to Cures" guest blog series, below is a post from the Alzheimer's Foundation of America President and CEO, Eric J. Hall, on the significant research and progress that will help lead to innovative treatments. The Alzheimer's Foundation is also a cohost of our upcoming Research and Hope Awards, which will honor individuals in the scientific and patient care ecosystem for their role in helping to further medical innovation in the U.S. and providing strong support systems for patients and family members most in need.

Chances are someone in your life has been affected by Alzheimer's disease. 5.1 million Americans are currently living with the disease, and the number is expected to skyrocket by the year 2050.

The baby boom generation has begun to hit the at-risk age of 65 at a pace of 10,000 people each day and will continue to do so for the next 19 years. Potential therapies and treatments can't come soon enough; in short, we're running out of time. Success in bringing these critical new treatments to individuals diagnosed with this brain disorder will require the broad support and engagement from stakeholders all across America.

Dedicated biopharmaceutical and academic research is focused on unlocking the mysteries behind the cause of this disease. Some of the greatest minds in the world are working tirelessly to break the code and are conducting clinical trials to ensure an effective improvement in quality of life for people with the disease and subsequently their families. Given the expected rise in Alzheimer's disease cases for years to come, our nation must provide significant support to encourage further progress and ensure a continued focus on advancing these discoveries toward preventative measures, improved treatments and ultimately a cure. Hope must be paired with progress.

To reach this goal, we need everyone's help.

We ask that people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds take steps to participate in clinical trials so that researchers can test potential treatments before it's too late. A big part of achieving this boils down to education. With all aspects of Alzheimer's disease, from early detection to treatment to activities of daily living, knowledge empowers caregivers. Consumers need to be armed with education about clinical trials, with questions to ask their doctors and with easy access to trial sites in order to make an informed decision.

In addition, we ask that you make your voice heard as well. Americans need to be proactive on this issue, urging policymakers to give Alzheimer's disease the attention it deserves.

Our country has taken major strides in this area recently, as the National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA) and the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease have brought the disease to the national spotlight. Among a variety of objectives, the plan sets the goal of preventing and treating the disease by 2025, culminating with the discovery of a cure. Given the toll of the disease from now 'til then, the plan also addresses many care-related issues to help families.

As the collective eyes of the nation have finally been opened to this disease, we must now take the next step by providing the funding and effort necessary to set the plan into action. Our success, in large part, depends on you. Let's work together to tackle this horrific disease.

Eric J. Hall is the president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA), whose mission is to provide optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, as well as their caregivers and families. By uniting more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide, the AFA provides one voice to raise awareness of dementia, promote best practices, and advocate for effective care and funding. Hall is also a member of the Advisory Council on Research, Care and Services that has been advising on the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease.

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