New York, NY (January 20, 2015) —The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is kicking off the year with a host of advocacy efforts aimed at increasing federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease as well as bringing some of the goals outlined in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease to life.
Last week, Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s president and chief executive officer sent a letter to President Obama, requesting an additional $500 million for Alzheimer’s disease research and $20 million in enhanced investments for caregiving supports and services in the Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2016 (FY’16). He also requested $5 million in funding to support the Department of Justice’s Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program.
Fuschillo underscored the need for this funding by emphasizing the disparity between federal dollars spent on Alzheimer’s disease and those spent on other disease states including heart disease and cancer. In FY 2013, the National Institutes for Health (NIH) spent approximately $504 million for Alzheimer’s disease, while $5.2 billion went to cancer research; $2.9 billion for HIV/AIDS; $2 billion for cardiovascular disease; $1.2 billion for heart disease; and more than $1 billion for diabetes.
“Without the same investment in combatting dementia, costs will continue to rise at unprecedented rates and promising research will remain unfunded, slowing scientific progress and putting Americans at risk for this terminal disease,” he noted.
AFA also submitted recommendations to the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services, which is responsible for implementing the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. The Council next meets on January 26.
Among AFA’s suggestions is that the Advisory Council to further promote and expand opportunities for memory screening, as well as to call for more research on cognitive screening and its impact on individual care choices and identify new technologies that can test and track cognitive functioning.
“Evidence has shown that with early detection, individuals with dementia can receive available therapy earlier in the disease progression when most available treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are most helpful,” said Fuschillo. “Early detection can also afford affected individuals the opportunity to participate in advance care planning discussions with their families.”
Brief cognitive screenings, also known as memory screenings, are becoming more prevalent, in part due to increased awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and the fact that such screenings are now included in the annual Medicare wellness visit. AFA has held its signature event, National Memory Screening Day, which provides free, confidential memory screenings to people nationwide, for 12 years. In 2014, more than 4,000 sites participated in the event.
In addition, AFA supports legislation seeking the expansion of publicly-funded “participant-directed” programs that would allow individuals to hire family members as paid caregivers; federal tax credits for primary family caregivers; income tax deductions for out-of-pocket costs associated with long-term care services; greater access to federally funded home- and community-based care services such as adult day programs and diagnostic and care planning services; incentives for employers to adopt family-friendly workplace policies; and qualifying all people with Alzheimer’s disease, regardless of age, for Medicare benefits and Older Americans’ Act programs.
“Our foundation has worked tirelessly to optimal provide care and services to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families since its founding in 2002,” said Fuschillo. “We will continue to do so this year, both directly and through working with federal and local government officials to provide research and funding for both care and, ultimately, a cure.”
For more information about the AFA and its advocacy efforts, visit www.alzfdn.org/AFAServices/advocacy.html.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,900 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free helpline staffed by licensed social workers, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers, and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484, visit www.alzfdn.org, follow us on Twitter, or connect with us on Facebook.