Alzheimer's Foundation of America Official to Testify Before Congress and Urge Policymakers to Act Now on Alzheimer's Disease Crisis

Dec 09, 2010, 08:25 ET from Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Foundation's CEO to Call for End to 'Devastation' in House Subcommittee Testimony Today

NEW YORK, Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Eric J. Hall, the president and chief executive officer of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA), today will call on policymakers to "end the devastation" caused by Alzheimer's disease in testimony before the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

The subcommittee hearing will look at "Alzheimer's Disease: The Ongoing Challenges." It comes a day after the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging similarly focused on this disease, holding a forum entitled "Until There's a Cure: How to Help Alzheimer's Patients Now," at which Hall participated on the panel.

His message: policymakers must urgently focus on increased funding for research related to Alzheimer's disease and other chronic diseases, and care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their families.

At the same time, "in the absence of a realistic short term prospect for a cure" for Alzheimer's disease, AFA is sending a similar call to action to the public. It is encouraging Americans to sign a petition urging President Obama and Congress to declare a "decade of care" for individuals with dementia and their families, including creating a comprehensive strategy that features competent, cost-effective care, support and training; the petition is available on AFA's Web site at

In today's testimony, Hall will urge Congress to increase the investment in preventing, treating or curing the "silver tsunami" of age-associated chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, calling it "perhaps the single most effective strategy in reducing national spending on health care."

"Simply put, our nation does not have the luxury of time to wait to address the health research needs of this population," Hall said.

Specifically, AFA is seeking $1.4 billion, an increase of $300 million, in the fiscal year 2012 National Institutes of Health budget for the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

On December 8, in his comments to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Hall similarly pressed for more federal investment in aging research and increased resources at NIA, as well as the need for caregiver support services and professional training.

He emphasized that organizations nationwide, including AFA's 1,400+ member organizations, are absolutely engaged and forging ahead with care for the increased number of families affected by Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses.

"An enormous footprint is already present in our country and dedicated professionals are giving their blood for this cause," Hall said. "But what we have now is not enough."    

Earlier this month, AFA held the nation's first Alzheimer's disease telethon to raise awareness of the disease and likewise highlight the urgency of the need for care and cure. The "Together for Care" telecast, which aired on December 4 on local NBC stations in 16 markets, is now available on AFA's Web site.

Currently, an estimated 5.1 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and the incidence of the brain disorder is expected to skyrocket due largely to the aging population, including the first wave of baby boomers turning 65 next year. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor. The disease results in loss of memory and other intellectual function, and is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York whose mission is to provide optimal care and services to individuals with dementia, and their families. It unites more than 1,400 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional and practical needs of families in their local communities. AFA's services include a toll-free hot line, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call 866-AFA-8484 or visit

SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America