Instilling hope in fight against Alzheimer’s

Friday, May 8, 2015

May is National Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of senior citizens to our families, communities and nation. Members of Congress can show seniors that they care in a concrete way this month by taking action on legislation that addresses a disease on the forefront of many older Americans' minds: Alzheimer's.

Fewer than half of Alzheimer's patients are told they have the disease in the early stages, according to the Alzheimer's Association's 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report. The report cites several reasons for this, including diagnostic uncertainty; physician time constraints and a lack of support services; and fear of causing emotional distress. It is true: Alzheimer's is a very frightening diagnosis for patients and caregivers, as there is currently no cure.

Despite the fear this disease generates, it is crucial for patients and caregivers to be informed of an Alzheimer's diagnosis at the earliest possible time so they can make the most of the cognitive strengths that remain and prepare for the future.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) have joined forces on a bipartisan bill — the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act — that provides comprehensive care planning services for Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

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