Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Elder Belle's Blessing: Barack Obama

(Photograph by Patrice Carlton and published at National Geographic.)

I do a lot of kvetching about President Obama, but it's only fair to acknowledge when he gets something right. He is the recipient of Elder Belle's Blessing, an award given to those who enhance the health and well-being of elders, for his commitment to additional federal funding for Alzheimer's research.

The Obama administration is increasing spending on Alzheimer's research — planning to surpass half a billion dollars next year — as part of a quest to find effective treatments for the brain-destroying disease by 2025.

In a two-part plan announced Tuesday, the National Institutes of Health immediately will devote an extra $50 million dementia research, on top of the $450 million a year it currently spends. The boost opens the possibility that at least one stalled study of a possible therapy might get to start soon.

Next week, President Barack Obama will ask Congress for $80 million in new money to spend for Alzheimer's research in 2013.

Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are a scourge for a rapidly growing proportion of the population of this country. While we probably won't see any short term results, at least we will be preparing for the future.

And President Obama appears to be aware of the need for assistance now for elders currently diagnosed with these conditions and their families:

...More than 5 million people already have Alzheimer's or related dementias, a number that, barring a medical breakthrough, is expected to more than double by 2050 because of the aging population. By then, the medical and nursing home bills are projected to cost $1 trillion annually. ...

The move is part of the administration's development of the first National Alzheimer's Plan, to combine research toward better treatments — the goal is to have some by 2025 — along with steps to help overwhelmed families better cope today. In addition to the biomedical research, the administration said it will propose spending $26 million for other goals of the still-to-be-finalized plan, including caregiver support.

Bravo, Mr. President!

For more information on this disease, including assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, I recommend going to the Alzheimer Organization web site. It's a good place to get started, especially if you suspect that an elder in your family may be showing signs of Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

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