Alzheimer’s ambassador believes there is HOPE for Alzheimer’s research
Call me old-fashioned. I still believe America is one nation under God working in unity to meet the challenges we face. Alzheimer’s disease is one of those worthy challenges!
A few weeks ago, I was honored to attend the 26th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. Forum as an Alzheimer’s Ambassador and member of the Greater Missouri Chapter delegation. More than 800 of us – people living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, advocates and ambassadors – gathered at the Capitol to ask Congress to make Alzheimer’s disease a national priority.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, including 110,000 here in Missouri.
Today, there are 15.5 million Americans caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, including 304,000 here in Missouri.
As an Alzheimer’s advocate, I count it a privilege to serve as an ambassador to Senator Roy Blunt and fulfill the responsibility as a constituent in his district to advocate for support and resources to stamp out the disease.
My husband, David Johnson, died at age 68 from Alzheimer’s disease. I was his primary caregiver. He was diagnosed with dementia in 1999, and in 2007, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. For 33 years, he was an engineer managing road and bridge construction. He was a great husband and father to Mark and Chelsea.
As his primary caregiver in the final three years of his life, we were nearly devastated physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. With the loss of his mental faculties came the loss of our freedom and doing all the things we loved to do. In the last four months of his life, David had difficulty even recognizing the people he loved. His lost his courageous battle with Alzheimer’s on April 30, 2012.
In addition to the human toll, Alzheimer’s is the most expensive condition in the nation, costing $214 billion a year. Nearly $1 in every $5 spent by Medicare is on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
If we could eliminate Alzheimer’s tomorrow, we could save half a million lives every year. It is only through adequate funding and a strong implementation of the national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease that we will meet its goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.
We are asking senators and representatives to co-sponsor the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which will improve care and outcomes for Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers by improving access to diagnosis, providing care planning services and ensuring that a diagnosis is documented in the medical record.
I urge you to call Senator Blunt and ask him to make Alzheimer’s disease a national priority.
To learn more, visit alz.org/greatermissouri.
Betty T. Johnson
Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter