Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more and more familiar and will continue to do so until there will be virtually no one left untouched by a personal story around Alzheimer’s.
Currently there are 100,000 Washingtonians living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number will grow to 140,000 by 2025. My mother Diane Hatem was one of them. Just 12 days ago, my 71-year-old mom passed away from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease.
My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010. She was an active member of our community and a project manager at Boeing. In the past five years, she went from living independently to becoming immobile, unable to speak or feed herself. Sadly, Alzheimer’s also took away her ability to experience the joy of the grandchildren. My 5- and 7-year-old will never know their amazing grandma. All they will remember is a grandma who was bedridden and didn’t know them.
Surprisingly, for every $100 spent on Alzheimer’s research, Medicare and Medicaid spent $26,000 to care for people with the disease today. We must invest more to find a treatment and a cure now vs. wait to spend the $1.1 trillion that is estimated to be needed by 2050 if we don’t.
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a bill giving $350 million more to the National Institutes of Health for Alzheimer’s research, while the House Committee has voted $300 million. If even the lower figure is signed into law, that would be a 50 percent increase in research funding for this disease.
I urge Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Rep. Adam Smith, to vote for this vital Alzheimer’s research boost and push to make sure it is in the final appropriations bill enacted into law.