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Congresswoman Waters Urges International Efforts to Address the Global Challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease

January 16, 2014
Press Release

Today on Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), the Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, urged international efforts to address the global challenges of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, during a hearing in the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  The subject of the hearing was "A Report on the G-8 Dementia Summit."  The Congresswoman's remarks as prepared for delivery follow:

"I would like to thank Chairman Chris Smith, the Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, as well as Ranking Member Karen Bass, for organizing this hearing and inviting me to participate.  As the Democratic Co-Chair of the Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, I know how devastating Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia can be for individuals and families. 

"As populations age, more individuals are likely to be affected by Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.  According to the World Health Organization, Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of dementia cases worldwide.

"Here in the United States, Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death, and it affects over five million American families.  One in nine Americans age 65 and older has Alzheimer's, and one in three Americans age 85 and older suffers from this disease.  The Alzheimer's Association estimates that more than 7 million Americans over age 65 will have Alzheimer's by the year 2025.  Every 68 seconds, another person in the United States develops Alzheimer's.

"Caregiving for dementia patients is especially difficult.  More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.  Caregivers include spouses, children, and grandchildren.  Caregivers face a variety of challenges, ranging from assisting patients with feeding, bathing, and dressing, to helping them take their medications, managing their finances, and making legal decisions. 

"Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia present growing challenges not just in the United States but also in many countries around the world.  According to data compiled by the Congressional Research Service, more than 35 million people worldwide suffered from dementia in 2010.  By the year 2050, that number is expected to more than triple to over than 115 million people. 

"The World Health Organization estimates that more than half of global dementia cases are in low- and middle-income countries.   The Congressional Research Service projected that by 2050, about 9 million people in Africa, 16 million people in Latin America, 29 million people in South and Southeast Asia, and 31 million people in East Asia will suffer from dementia. 

"Alzheimer's disease and other dementias present special challenges in low- and middle-income countries.  In high-income countries like the United States, institutions and programs like Medicare, Medicaid, nursing homes, adult day care, and other social services provide critical support to dementia patients, their families and caregivers.  However, in most low- and middle-income countries, public medical and social services for people with dementia are rare.  Consequently, care for individuals with dementia in these countries is almost exclusively the responsibility of their families.

"The G-8 Dementia Summit brought together national leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia to discuss a coordinated international response to dementia.  I look forward to hearing from the witnesses about their experiences at the Summit.  I am especially interested in plans to coordinate efforts to enhance dementia research, treatment, and caregiver support activities.  I am also interested in plans to work with low- and middle-income countries to prepare them to respond to the needs of growing numbers of families affected by dementia.

"Once again, I thank my colleagues, Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Bass, and I yield back the balance of my time."