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Reps. Waters, Smith and Senators Klobuchar, Collins Introduce the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act

March 4, 2021
Press Release

Reps. Waters, Smith and Senators Klobuchar, Collins Introduce the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), announced the reintroduction of the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act. The legislation provides training and support services to those providing unpaid care to patients with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia and requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to coordinate with the Office of Minority Health and the Office of Women’s Health to ensure that women, minorities, and other underserved communities are not left behind.

In 2020, the direct cost of care for Alzheimer’s and other dementias was projected to reach $305 billion, including $206 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments. At the current rate, the direct cost of care for these tragic conditions will reach $1.1 trillion by 2050. With more than 16 million Americans providing billions of hours of unpaid care to family and friends living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the need for action is critical.

“For so many people, the devastating and costly effects of Alzheimer’s on loved ones are extremely difficult to deal with, and that pain is only compounded by the fact that there is still no effective treatment,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). “Alzheimer’s continues to wreak havoc on our country, our healthcare system, and the lives and well-being of caregivers who struggle greatly with emotional, physical, and financial difficulties. This legislation would help to ease the heavy burden they face by providing grants for training and support services for families and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, and ensure that women, minorities, and medically underserved communities will benefit from the program. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alzheimer’s was the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and as we move forward it is absolutely essential that we work to support those providing comfort and care for Americans living with Alzheimer’s.”

“Most of us have a family member or friend who is among the 5.8 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease—which has been exacerbated by the loneliness and separation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ). “There is an urgent need for assistance, and our legislation will ensure that unpaid caregivers—who are primarily family members—can get access to the training and resources necessary to overcome the challenges presented by Alzheimer’s and provide effective care. Family caregivers give an estimated $244 billion in unpaid assistance annually to Alzheimer’s patients—we must do everything we can to help them especially as we continue to work towards improved treatment and, hopefully, a cure.”

“Watching a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s or related dementia is heartbreaking—and we need to make sure those caring for family members have the resources and support they need,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “Our bipartisan bill will expand training and support services for family caregivers to improve their well-being and health. It will also allow patients to stay in the comfort of their homes longer, improving their quality of life.”

“Millions of Americans devote enormous time and attention and make many personal and financial sacrifices to ensure that their loved ones have the high-quality care they need day in and day out.  These individuals know all too well the compassion, commitment, and endurance that it takes to be a caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).  “Our bipartisan legislation would help expand the availability of resources and training services for family caregivers to ensure they can continue to provide quality care for their loved ones.”

The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) have offered statements in support of the legislation.

“Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia poses unique challenges. The bipartisan Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act would help to provide valuable support and lead to better health outcomes," said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. "We are grateful to Reps. Waters and Smith for their continued leadership to support our nation's dementia caregivers and those living with Alzheimer's."

“The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) wants to thank Reps. Waters and Smith for their leadership in introducing the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act and for their passion in working to improve the lives of those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and CEO.  “AFA has long supported measures that will enhance caregiver training.  Such training provides better outcomes for both the person living with dementia and their care partners while having the potential to lower overall care costs by delaying placement in more costly institutional settings.  We call on all in Congress to support passage of the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act which will provide caregivers the tools and training to help their loved ones stay in the home where they prefer to be.”