Florida House Bill Focuses On Alzheimer’s Research, Care
By Dr. James Palermo // January 28, 2014
OVER 450,000 FLORIDIANS LIVING WITH AD
ABOVE VIDEO: These disturbing Facts and Figures from the Alzheimer’s Association about Alzheimer’s disease cut to the core of it being the “Epidemic of the Century,” and emphatically underscore the need for more resources for and support of Alzheimer’s research.
Last week Florida House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, filed a proposal that would create a new state Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research program and take steps to ensure care for Alzheimer’s patients.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have AD, including an estimated 5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals younger than age 65, who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
In Florida, just over 450,000 people are living with AD, and, with the prevalence of the disease growing at a rate of increase of more than 20 percent every 10 years, it is anticipated that number will grow to over 510,000 by 2020.
PROPOSED BILL WOULD FUND ALZHEIMER’S RESEARCH
Affecting one in eight elderly Americans, AD is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only one among the top ten without a way to cure, prevent or even slow its progression.
The proposal (HB 709) would set up a program to help pay for research aimed at preventing or curing the disease with necessary funding allocated by the Legislature and awarded through a peer-review process.
The costs are also devastating, with the direct costs in 2013 of caring for those with Alzheimer’s to American society totaling an estimated $203 billion, including $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.
“Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking, devastating disease that is affecting an ever-growing number of Floridians,” Hudson said in a prepared statement after the bill was filed. “It is my hope that this legislation will help advance critical research in our state towards finding a cure.”
MORE RESEARCH NEEDED ON THE ‘EPIDEMIC OF THIS CENTURY’
The 2013 American Geriatric Society’s Geriatric Clinician of the Year and champion for senior health and wellness in our community, Dr. Rosemary Laird is encouraged to see the Florida Legislature focused on AD.
“Too few people realize that Alzheimer’s is the epidemic of this century, and given the growing numbers of victims and astronomical cost to society of Alzheimer’s, the research dollars nationally and in Florida have not yet been adequately allocated,” Laird told SpaceCoastDaily. “This bill is a step in the right direction and comes at a critical time.”
INCENTIVE FUNDING FOR MEMORY DISORDER CLINICS ALSO INCLUDED
The bill also would seek to ensure that “special needs shelters” used in disasters would be prepared to serve people with Alzheimer’s.
Another part of the bill calls for developing minimum performance standards for memory-disorder clinics and includes the possibility of incentive funding for clinics that exceed those standards.
“I am happy to see the addition of the provision to ensure that special needs shelters and the states’ memory disorder clinics also would receive additional funding through the proposed legislation,” said Laird, who is the founder of the Health First Aging Institute. “Day after day, the direct physical and emotional care to those affected will remain largely a task of family caregivers who desperately need additional resources for caregiver support, training, and respite programs.”