MEMPHIS, Tenn — It’s estimated that as many as five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That’s according to the CDC, who says that number is projected to triple in the next 40 years.
Alzheimer’s has long been treated like an aging issue, rather than a public health emergency. That is, until now.
“You can’t even begin to fathom how much it takes away,” said Alzheimer’s advocate, Joni Glass.
She has seen the devastating effects of the disease first-hand. First, during her time working at an assisted living facility and now as her husband’s grandmother is living with the disease.
“Someone that you love and has taken care of you and done things for you might not even remember your name.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 56,000 Arkansans, almost 2% of the state’s population are living with Alzheimer’s. In Tennessee, that number is 120,000. And the care is expensive.
That’s because Alzheimer’s patients require 24-hour specialized care. In Tennessee, there are currently 435,000 unpaid caregivers. The disease cost the state $989 million last year alone.
” There’s not enough research going into Alzheimer’s to know how we can prevent this,” Glass told us of the current state of affairs. Adding she hopes that’s about to change.
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On New Year’s Eve, President Trump signed the BOLD Act into law. The bipartisan bill provides unprecedented resources to educate, intervene, and increase information sharing when it comes to Alzheimer’s. Glass says Alzheimer’s is often overlooked, even though it kills 100% of the time, but finally, she sees a glimmer of hope.
“It sounds so nice. It’s like everybody is going to be holding everybody else’s hand and passing each information along to find that connection, to find that new light,” Glass said finally.
The BOLD Act does not address the cost of care or additional memory care centers. No word yet on how exactly the law will be implemented in each state.
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