It is time we change our thinking on Alzheimer’s disease. The impact of Alzheimer’s is broader than most people understand: over 140,000 Georgians currently have the disease and it is projected to grow by almost 30 percent by 2025. It is more than just a health problem: Alzheimer’s is a public health crisis.
Nationally, the 2017 cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s will be $259 billion. By 2050, direct annual costs will rise to $1.1 trillion.
The impact of Alzheimer’s disease is undeniable. Medicare and Medicaid bear two-thirds of the health and long term care costs of those living with Alzheimer’s. In 2017 alone, Medicare and Medicaid will spend $175 billion caring for individuals living with Alzheimer’s with Georgia’s share of the Medicaid cost reaching $1 billion.
Now, Congress has a chance to take decisive action by passing the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 2076/H.R. 4256), making Alzheimer’s a public health crisis.
The BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act will establish Alzheimer’s Centers of Excellence around the country to expand and promote innovative and effective Alzheimer’s interventions. It would also provide funding to public health departments to implement the Public Health Road Map and to promote cognitive health, risk reduction, early detection and diagnosis, and the needs of caregivers. Public health officials can use the traditional tools and techniques of public health to improve the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s and to reduce the costs associated with it.
This bipartisan bill is already receiving support in Congress. Today, six members have signed on to support this legislation. Please join me in asking Georgia Congressmen Rick Allen, District 12, and Jody Hice, District 10, to support the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act today.
The writer is the Alzheimer’s Association ambassador to Georgia’s 12th Congressional District and a member of the Alzheimer’s State Board of Governors.