The Disparate Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease

By Congressman Adam Smith

congressman-adam-smith

Editors Note: Register for Advocacy Forum today and join more than 1,000 advocates in Washington, D.C. to advocate for research, and care and support services March 27-29. 

Memory is an essential element to our everyday lives, one which we often take for granted. Rudimentary processes of consuming, storing, and retrieving information are commonplace to a majority of people.

Unfortunately, there are over 5 million Americans that are not able to enjoy the full capabilities of these recollection functions. Alzheimer’s disease is contributing to the premature deaths of thousands of individuals around the nation, yet it is still not getting the attention it deserves. The direct cause of the decaying brain cells are currently unknown, but there are studies that show notable disparities in rates for women, people of color and other historically marginalized communities who are diagnosed.facts2016_info3.jpg

There are many Americans, Washington state residents, and 9th Congressional District constituents who do not have equitable access to healthcare resources. Lifestyle factors such as malnutrition, high blood pressure, and lack of exercise intensify cognitive decline. Many of these problems are reinforced through food deserts, economic factors and social stress. The inequity of socioeconomic status that is experienced by some communities may leave them at a higher risk of memory destroying diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

This health problem is the 3rd leading cause of death in Washington, a devastating reality for our community. I have worked to expand the coverage for treatment and funding for further research to continue the fight against Alzheimer’s. More funding needs to be allotted for the National Institute of Health (NIH) so that we can gain more insight on how to better understand familial, early, and late onset Alzheimer’s.

In Fiscal Year 2016, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives on a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education to ask for support of a $500 million increase on top of the President’s request. This would be a total of $1.491 billion for the NIH in Fiscal Year 2017. Members of Congress must continue to advocate for Alzheimer’s research because of important role that it will play in our society.

I will continue fighting for those patients and families that are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. When we find methods to alleviate the problems that this disease causes, we will save millions of lives and lower the healthcare costs for our nation’s residents. Every day, every hour, every minute, families are struggling with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.  This must end.

 

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