FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | July 31, 2006
Bipartisan Resolution Encourages Those with Memory Loss to Seek Evaluation and Diagnosis
NEW YORK , NY — A resolution originally proposed by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) that recognizes the serious toll of Alzheimer's disease and encourages Americans with memory loss to seek an evaluation and diagnosis was introduced Friday by the leaders of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease.
The bipartisan resolution ( H Res 964 ) was jointly introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA).
“We applaud the congressmen for their leadership and dedication,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer. “This is a huge step forward in our efforts to improve quality of care for millions of Americans. The eyes of the nation must focus on the enormity of this disease and its heartbreaking implications for families.”
The resolution highlights “the seriousness of Alzheimer's disease and the toll it takes on individuals living with the disease, their caregivers, and other family members.”
Among its key provisions, the resolution encourages all Americans who may be experiencing memory impairment to contact their physician or other qualified health professional to seek an evaluation and diagnosis. It emphasizes that early detection and diagnosis of the disease can help individuals pursue available treatments, address related medical problems and plan for their care, and enable these individuals and their families to embrace support services in their communities and at a national level.
Further, the resolution supports the goals of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, held each November, including efforts to raise public awareness about Alzheimer's disease; promote early evaluation, diagnosis, planning and treatment; and encourage progress toward a national health policy to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease and to ensure that people with dementia receive a diagnosis and proper care.
AFA pressed for the resolution as part of its national initiative to bring attention to Alzheimer's disease and to encourage early detection, proper diagnosis and treatment.
Each November, for example, AFA sponsors National Memory Screening Day, in which hundreds of sites across the nation offer free, face-to-face memory screenings to those concerned about memory problems. The screenings are not a diagnosis; those whose scores are below normal are encouraged to pursue further evaluation and a full-scale medical examination. This year, AFA will hold National Memory Screening Day on November 14.
Alzheimer's disease currently affects an estimated five million Americans; the incidence is expected to triple by 2050. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, behavioral changes, and loss of verbal skills and other intellectual function.
However, a recent AFA survey found that fear of stigma, denial, lack of knowledge and concern about health care costs can significantly delay a diagnosis.
“We hope that this resolution will give Americans that extra push to take action if they notice signs of dementia,” Hall said. “Proper treatment and support can make a world of difference.”
The New York-based Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national non-profit organization that focuses on care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families. Its services include a toll-free hotline, counseling by licensed social workers, bilingual educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and training for healthcare professionals. For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
Contact: Carol Steinberg