The Mississippi Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association hopes to see that one day.
More than five million Americans are living with the disease today. An estimated 53,000 Mississippians suffer from the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Caring for someone with the disease is never easy, but the role is made much more difficult and emotional when the caregiver is a family member,” said Keri Roaten, a facilitator/ambassador with Alzheimer’s Association, MS.
Roaten became her grandmother’s primary caregiver at the age of 15.
“What should have been some of he best years of my life were spent maintaining my grandmother’s health, while helplessly watching her forget who I was,” she said.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three senior adults die with the disease or another dementia. Deaths related to the disease have risen 68 percent nationwide from 2000 to 2010.
“It is the only disease where people lose their loved ones twice,” said Roaten, who cared for her grandmother 10 years before she passed way in December.
The Alzheimer’s Association projects that up to 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s by the year 2050, creating a huge burden on the health care system, families and the federal budget.
Congress recognized the growing crisis and unanimously passed a plan in Dec. of 2010.
President Barack Obama signed into law the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) in Jan. of 2011. Obama’s 2013 fiscal year budget proposal included $100 million in additional funding for research, awareness, education and outreach, and caregiver support.
“The nation came together and advocated the passage of the nation’s first Alzheimer’s plan and now that plan must be strongly implemented,” said Roaten. “In order to fulfill the potential of the plan, Congress must see to it that the necessary resources are committed to accelerate and prioritize the government’s efforts … I urge Rep. Alan Nunnelee to support the $100 million in funding necessary to continue the implementation of the plan.”
The Plan – released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in May, 2012 – requires:
n An annually updated national plan submitted to Congress on how to overcome Alzheimer’s.
n Annual recommendations for priority actions to both improve health outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer’s and lower costs to families and government programs.
n The annual evaluation of all federally funded efforts in Alzheimer’s research, care and services – along with their outcomes.
n The creation of an Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services.
“A common misconception is Alzheimer’s only effects the aging population, my story tells otherwise,” said Roaten.