Earlier this year, Congress passed the National Alzheimer's Project Act which will give advocates the chance to participate in creating a national plan to fight the disease. (WRDW-TV / July 13, 2011)
News 12 This Morning / Wednesday, July 13, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Some call it the brain-wasting disease that will cost Americans $20 trillion over the next 40 years. Alzheimer's is on the rise and diagnoses are supposed to triple by 2050.
As Karen Argelius thumbs through her father's pictures, she remembers how Alzheimer's robbed him of his memory.
"To see his decline month after month and year after year, to go through the time when he knew me and there was a smile, to the time we would go in and not know me, makes you realize you have to be a voice," said Argelius who is a Alzheimer's caregiver.
She went from being a daughter to taking care of all his needs.
"I know nothing about Alzheimer's," she said. "It didn't affect anyone I knew."
She found support at Augusta's Alzheimer's Association where program director Kathy Tuckey is trying to raise more awareness and educate people locally.
"It is the only cause of death in the top 10 for which we have no cure no treatment," Tuckey said.
However, she says the mood is changing on a federal level. Earlier this year, Congress passed the National Alzheimer's Project Act which will give family members like Karen the chance to participate in creating a national plan to fight the disease.
"It's still a disease that isn't talked about much," Argelius said.
Tuckey explained that the funding isn't always there.
"This truly is the disease that will bankrupt our health care system," Tuckey said.
Just consider the distribution of funding for research on other diseases. Cancer research receives more than $5 billion, HIV/AIDS gets about $3 billion and Alzheimer's gets $450 million. A new Alzheimer's breakthrough act would set aside research dollars from the National Institute of Health to research Alzheimer's and find new treatments.
An act that would help caregivers like Argelius.
"I asked him one time, 'Dad how does it feel to have Alzheimer's?' He just looked at me and said, 'It's awful, I just wish they had a pill,'" she said.
That pill still doesn't exist. Those, like Karen, who are not only affected by it, but also have a chance of developing the disease down the line are determined to push forward funding the research.
The Alzheimer's Project Act, which creates an advisory panel on a national level, will be seeking input from local residents affected by the disease.
You can take part in their input session on Aug. 13 at the Augusta Public Library on 823 Telfair Street at 11 a.m. You must register in order to attend. Click here to register.
Advocates like Tuckey want you to write to your local congressmen as well. They say you can sign up online to be an advocate. Click here to search for your elected official.