Guest Column: It’s time we recognize Alzheimer’s a public health crisis


Alzheimer’s disease has developed into an insidious public health crisis. Today, there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and more than 15 million Alzheimer’s caregivers.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 “Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures,” by 2050 the total cost of care for Alzheimer’s is projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion. Alzheimer’s is the nation’s most expensive disease, costing $277 billion in 2018, including $186 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.

Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death in the U.S. without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. There are no survivors.

I am passionate about working with the Alzheimer’s Association to end this disease because my father, at the age of 63, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. We lost my dad just a few weeks ago. His was a rapid and heartbreaking progression, but today we remember him for the man he was before his disease took over.

Here in Sussex County, approximately 28 percent of the population is over the age of 65, and we need increased services, including crisis management, a greater number of doctors to choose from, more nurse navigators and memory-care treatment options. Recognition of Alzheimer’s disease as a public health issue at the national level can help us improve services right here at home. We need you!

Bring your voice to Washington, D.C., on June 19

On Tuesday, June 19, concerned citizens from across the country will engage with Congress in Washington, D.C. for the annual Day on the Hill — the final day of the three-day Alzheimer’s Association AIM Advocacy Forum. Our mission: to ensure Alzheimer’s disease remains a priority.

I will attend Day on the Hill to urge support for a $425 million increase for research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Alzheimer’s disease for fiscal year 2019. I will also advocate for the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act — which would apply a public health approach to Alzheimer’s — and PCHETA, which is a bill to ensure America has an adequate, well-trained palliative care and hospice workforce.

We can’t do this alone. We need you to bring your voice, too! The Alzheimer’s Association is providing $25 round-trip bus transportation to Capitol Hill from four locations throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware on Tuesday, June 19. I encourage anyone concerned about the Alzheimer’s health crisis to pre-register online today at http://tinyurl.com/2018DOTH and participate in this empowering and powerful day today.

Alzheimer’s cannot wait. The time to end this public health crisis is now.

Aimee Isaac is the Alzheimer’s Association’s ambassador to U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).

By Aimee Isaac
Alzheimer’s Association