Undoubtedly, there is no disease that affects a family more than Alzheimer’s. Experts have steadily and consistently been projecting that the number of new cases will explode over the next several decades. This has led to many groups organizing efforts, both at state and national levels, with the goal of preparing our country for the economic toll it will surely take on us. As it stands today, it is estimated that Alzheimer’s care costs the US an estimated $226 billion, including over 36 billion dollars in out of pocket expenses for family caregivers. Caregiver support has been one of this biggest issues in the fight against Alzheimer’s. This summer, the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act was introduced to the House. It calls for a board to to be created to develop strategies to support family caregivers. The American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) showed their support when they sent a letter to Reps. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Kathy Castor, D-Fla., “Family caregivers are the backbone of services and supports in this country,” the letter reads.
“They help make it possible for older adults and people with disabilities to live independently in their homes and communities.”
Having the support of the AAFP is extremely important. After all, they are the first line of defensive. They are relied upon to recognize, diagnose and treat the diseases that ail us. They work directly with families in creating plans for individuals and they see, first hand, the struggles of the caregivers. If nothing is done to alter this pattern, nor a cure discovered, it is estimated that the overall cost will rise to over one trillion dollars! This is for a single disease. Obviously, the country, let alone average citizens, would be crippled by these costs.
So far, this year, many advancements have already been made to heighten the awareness, especially on a federal level. In March, The 2015 Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum saw nearly 1,000 advocates on Capitol Hill, meeting with legislators to ask for more funds to be directed to the necessary organizations across the country. June brought us the “Longest Day” campaign, also sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. This concept challenged participants to raise money and awareness by doing something from sunrise to sunset on the longest day of the year, also known as the summer solstice. Some people took on individual challenges while others organized their own fundraisers such as bike rides and golf outings. Millions of dollars were raised through this campaign, but just as effective is the awareness that it raised, especially on social media. Currently, the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s is in full swing across the U.S. The world’s largest fundraising event for Alzheimer’s also brings the most attention as World’s Alzheimer’s Day coincides with the walks.
The recent support from the AAFP provides much needed awareness from a powerful group. Granted, this group has a direct connection with health care and family caregivers, but as Alzheimer’s cases continue to increase, all groups and organizations will be affected eventually. Companies will suffer from lost hours of productivity and higher insurance costs, not to mention families that are unable to meet the costs of dementia care, thus relying on Medicaid. Alzheimer’s can and will become a huge financial burden on this country, from the single families to the largest organizations and unfortunately, time is not on our side. We all need to pull together now and insist that the government take strong actions to insure that there are programs in place before its too late.
Are you an advocate for Alzheimer’s care? Do you have suggestions for raising awareness or convincing organizations to take a stand? Please share your thoughts and experiences with our readers.