To the Editor:
Someone develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds. In a little more than a minute, someone’s life will change, maybe in small, imperceptible ways at first, but Alzheimer’s is a disease that will never go away. It is a fatal disease for which there is no cure.
As an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, I urge Illinois Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin to support $100 million for Alzheimer’s research, care and support in the fiscal 2014 final budget. These funds are crucial for Illinois, where more than 210,000 people are currently living with the disease, and for the more than 5 million diagnosed Americans and 15 million caregivers across the country.
Members of a bipartisan Budget Conference are tasked with finding common ground between the Senate and House draft versions and forming a budget in the coming weeks.
As members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, both Durbin and Kirk have input into the conference’s breakdown of funds and consequently can play an integral role in securing appropriations for Alzheimer’s disease in the final budget.
Unless something is done, Alzheimer’s will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion in 2050 and costs to Medicare and Medicaid will increase more than 500 percent. The conference must report all budgetary findings and recommendations by Dec. 13, allowing Congress until Jan. 15 to pass the legislation. We must pass this budget or our country will face the next round of sequester cuts, which will prove even more devastating to the health and human services community.
I have three grandparents that are currently battling Alzheimer’s disease. Each one is at a different stage and it has been absolutely devastating to our family. It is heart-wrenching to see each one of them slowly lose memories that they once held so dear. My paternal grandfather has lost all recollection of who we are and on bad days can’t remember how to tie his shoes. The struggle that each one of my grandparents is enduring is my motivation to speak out and ask for our elected officials’ support!
The costs for Alzheimer’s care and services continue to rise, straining our overwhelmed health care system and threatening to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid. I humbly urge our Sens. Kirk and Durbin to prioritize Alzheimer’s funding.