November is National AlzheimerΓÇÖs Disease Awareness Month, a month to recognize the toll this disease has taken and work to change its course.
President Ronald Reagan launched the national campaign against AlzheimerΓÇÖs in 1982 when he first designated National AlzheimerΓÇÖs Disease Week. Increased awareness of the disease moved him to sign a proclamation the following year declaring the first National AlzheimerΓÇÖs Disease Awareness Month. Since then, Presidents have continued to honor the tradition.
When President Reagan designated the month, fewer than 2 million Americans had AlzheimerΓÇÖs. Today, the number of people living with the disease has soured to nearly 5.4 million. In Texas alone, approximately 340,000 people have Alzheimer’s, and more than 1 million Texans are unpaid family caregivers. As the boomers turn 65 and we continue to see the rate of Alzheimer’s increasing, we will be facing a crisis. The number of people living with AlzheimerΓÇÖs is projected to grow to 16 million by 2050.
Beyond the annual proclamations, and perhaps because of them, legislation has been crafted to address this trend. In January, Congress passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which calls for an aggressive and coordinated national strategy to enable earlier diagnosis of the disease, improve strategies for long term care, and accelerate the search for a cure by promoting collaboration among researchers. The Act also establishes an Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, which brings together some of our Nation’s foremost experts on Alzheimer’s disease to ensure our efforts do the most good for patients and their families. President Obama made a statement highlighting the importance of NAPA. You can watch it here. You can add you two cents and follow the progress by going to napa.alz.org.
You have an opportunity to turn the tide on Alzheimer’s disease by becoming an advocate. By visiting our advocacy page and becoming an advocate today, you play an important role in raising awareness and educating our elected officials about this devastating disease.
National AlzheimerΓÇÖs Disease Awareness Month has become a time to reflect on the devastation this disease has caused, but it will increasingly become a month to celebrate the victories achieved in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.