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National Alzheimer’s Project Act Signed Into Legislation

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

The fact that the United States Congress voted unanimously on any legislation set before them, sent an extremely powerful signal. The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), signed by the President on January 4, 2011 turns a concept of need into a law of the land, a coordinated national plan to overcome the Alzheimer’s crisis. Passage of NAPA will ensure the coordination and evaluation of all national efforts in Alzheimer’s research, clinical care, institutional, home and community based programs and their outcomes. The new National Alzheimer’s Project office will be located within the Department of Health and Human Services and will oversee federal research on Alzheimer’s disease to develop a plan to combat the disease and eventually develop a cure. The office will be funded within the existing budget and does not require an appropriation.This is a major victory for the 5.3 million people who live with Alzheimer’s in this country and their nearly 11 million caregivers who take care of them. NAPA will confront one of the most feared and costly diseases that stands to plaque the baby boomer generation as they move into their senior years.

Given the scale of the Alzheimer epidemic and the growing number of Americans directly affected every single day, NAPA will provide an essential framework within the government that recognizes the Alzheimer crisis is no longer emerging, but is already here.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities that are serious enough to interfere with daily life, worsens over time, and is fatal. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging; although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age however. Roughly, 10 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s that can appear when someone is in their 40s or 50s. For a nearly a decade, advocates of the disease have been petitioning for federal involvement to address the crisis.  In 2003, longtime advocate for those with disease, the Alzheimer’s Association was at the forefront of the effort to add early onset of the disease to the Compassionate Allowances List making it possible for victims to receive Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income. Inclusion on the SSA’s list was not accomplished until 2010. In 2007, then Speaker Newt Gingrich and AA’s Robert Egge made the case for creation of a federal Alzheimer strategy with an article, Developing a National Alzheimer’s Strategy Equal to the Epidemic.

Written by Egge, it garnered national attention when it was published in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Also in 2007, the association launched the Alzheimer’s Study Group at a Capitol Hill Conference. In 2009, they released their final report calling for federal legislation to attack the challenges of the disease, currently the sixth leading cause of death in the nation. Based on the Alzheimer’s Study Group recommendations and following consultations with the Alzheimer’s Association, controversial former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Evan Bayh (D-IN) introduced a measure to create a collaborated system for researching, treating and eliminating Alzheimer’s disease. The measure was introduced to Congress as the first National Alzheimer’s Project Act in July 2009. After various draftings in 2010, the bill progressed through the legislative branch until final congressional approval in December 2010 and the presidential signing in January 2011. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support, advocacy, and research. Their mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Their vision, now supported by the federal government, is a world without Alzheimer’s.

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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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