To the Editor:
Nancy Reagan once described Alzheimer’s disease as “a truly long, long goodbye.” Her words remained with me as I watched my mother, Patsy J. Nichols, struggle with Alzheimer’s from her diagnosis in 1999 until her death in 2013.
My husband, Stephen’s, grandmother, Patricia Paar, also has Alzheimer’s. I have chosen to make a difference as the Alzheimer’s Ambassador for Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office, and I will be attending the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. with more than 750 advocates from all 50 states April 7-9.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, today there are an estimated 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, including 110,000 diagnosed in Tennessee, which will grow to as many as 140,000 by 2025, if we don’t do all we can to stop the disease today. Alzheimer’s will cost the nation $214 billion in 2014 and $1.2 trillion by 2050.
Alzheimer’s affects all of us. I am encouraged that Congress created and passed on a unanimous bipartisan basis, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act spurring the creation of the first National Alzheimer’s plan. Currently, co-sponsorship is needed for the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, (S. 709) which will improve care and outcomes for Americans living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers by improving access to diagnosis, providing care planning services, and ensuring that a diagnosis is documented in the medical record.
Please contact Alexander today. Ask him to co-sponsor the HOPE Act and also to provide the funding necessary to support the National Alzheimer’s Plan.