Every 65 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. It may start with small incidents of forgetfulness, but typically results in a complete loss of memory and cognition.
Scientists have been working on a cure for this degenerative disease for decades, and now are able to work at a more rapid pace to advance basic disease knowledge, explore ways to reduce risk, uncover new biomarkers for early diagnosis and drug targeting, and develop potential treatments.
In the meantime, Alzheimer’s is still a threat. According to the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia in the United States, and the sixth leading cause of death.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.8 million people of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, a figure projected to increase to 13.8 million people by 2050.
An increase of this magnitude is a dizzying prospect in the context of the untold pain and suffering it will cause those who live with the disease and their families. It could also lead to a catastrophic situation where healthcare systems are overwhelmed and people seeking care are denied help.
“Dementia has an enormous impact on family caregivers, long-term care facilities, health care providers, health care systems and infrastructure, and the communities in which we all live,” reports the NIH Professional Judgment Budget for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias for Fiscal Year 2022. “An analysis conducted by NIH-supported researchers found that total social costs from health care and caregiving spending for a person with probable dementia in the last five years of life was an estimated $287,000, compared with $175,000 for an individual with heart disease and $173,000 for someone with cancer.”
By the latest NIH estimates, federally-funded Alzheimer’s programs require an extra $289 million for research on Alzheimer’s and related dementias in FY 2022 to stay ahead of the curve.
This funding helps scientists and doctors understand more about this brain disorder and develop powerful new tools for “seeing” and diagnosing it in people. It brings new ways to help diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s all with the eventual hope of some day preventing this disease.
The NIH has recently chalked up wins in federally-funded programs that test new drug candidates and behavioral interventions, develop novel biomarkers, and advance comprehensive
models of care.
Join the growing number of others urging Congress to include a $289 million increase for Alzheimer’s and dementia research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the government’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
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