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Statement on World Alzheimer's Day

October 6, 2009
Floor Statement
Madam Speaker, yesterday was World Alzheimer's Day--a day to call attention to and raise awareness of this fatal, neurodegenerative disease afflicting over 5 million Americans.

In this country, someone develops Alzheimer's every 70 seconds, and total healthcare costs are more than three times higher for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias than for people the same age without the disease. Experts estimate that it could affect as many as 10 million baby boomers as they age. The bottom line is this: Alzheimer's disease poses a significant public health threat to our Nation.

In my State of California, there will be as many as 480,000 people age 65 and older who will have Alzheimer's disease by 2010. And Alzheimer's doesn't just strike the individual--it is a family disease. According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2009 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, there are nearly 10 million Alzheimer's caregivers providing unpaid care valued at $94 billion. In California alone, there are over 1 million caregivers grappling with the tremendous challenges of Alzheimer's disease every day.
In order to assist caregivers with these daunting challenges, I plan to reintroduce the Alzheimer's Treatment and Caregiver Support Act this month (H.R. 1032 in the 110th Congress). This bill provides grants to public and nonprofit organizations to improve treatment services for Alzheimer's patients and expand training and support services for families and caregivers. Expanding access to training and support services would improve the ability of caregivers to provide effective, compassionate care and allow more people with Alzheimer's disease to remain in their homes with people who love them. This bill had over 100 cosponsors in the 110th Congress, and I hope the 111th Congress will pass this important bill and send it to the President's desk.

We can also fight this disease with the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act, H.R. 3286, of which I am proud to be a cosponsor. This legislation seeks to find breakthroughs in Alzheimer's disease by increasing research funding to $2 billion per year. It also calls for a national summit on Alzheimer's disease to look at promising research possibilities and programs that are important in fighting this disease.
As we recognize World Alzheimer's Day 2009, I urge my colleagues to join with me and cosponsor the Alzheimer's Treatment and Caregiver Support Act and the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act. Let us commit to take every possible action to improve treatments for Alzheimer's patients, support caregivers, and invest in research to find a cure for this disease.