Joint Press

Senate Aging Committee to Examine Efforts to Combat Alzheimer's


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WASHINGTON, DC -  An iconic figure in country music, who is slowly being robbed of his memories by Alzheimer's and forced to end touring, will head to Capitol Hill this week to advocate on behalf of the growing number of elderly who are being struck with this mind robbing disease.   Country Music Hall of Famer Glenn Campbell will make an appearance with his daughter Ashley on Wednesday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.  Campbell, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at last year's Grammy Awards, is best known for chart-topping hits such as "Rhinestone Cowboy", "Wichita Lineman", "Southern Nights" and "Galveston."   The 77-year old entertainer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2011.

The hearing, set for 2:00 p.m. in room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, comes at a time when public health officials, researchers and advocates are scrambling to find effective treatments to combat Alzheimer's as the country's aging population increases.   By one estimate, the number of people over 65 with the disease is expected to nearly triple by 2050, from five million today to 13.8 million, according to a report released in March by the Alzheimer's Association.   More troubling, the report also found that deaths linked to Alzheimer's increased 68-percent from 2000 to 2010, while those attributed to other diseases such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and HIV all declined.   

"In many ways, Alzheimer's has become the defining disease of my generation," said Aging Committee ranking member Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who co-authored a 2011 law directing the government to develop a long-term plan to fight Alzheimer's.  "An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, more than double the number in 1980.  It is estimated that nearly one in two of the baby boomers reaching 85 will develop Alzheimer's.   If nothing is done to slow or stop this disease, it will cost the United States $20 trillion over the next 40 years."
       
"Sadly, we've yet to find a way to prevent, cure or even slow Alzheimer's progression," said the panel's chairman Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).  "If we can put a man on the moon in less than a decade, then we should be able to eventually beat this disease."  
   
The lack of effective treatments has led congress and the administration to step up efforts to combat Alzheimer's.  Following Congress' passage of the National Alzheimer's Project Act in 2011, the Obama administration last May unveiled a national strategy aimed at preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease by 2025.  In addition to expanding research funding, the plan aims to improve the care and support Alzheimer's patients and their families receive.

Earlier this month, the White House announced it would ask Congress for $100 million to start a brain-mapping project that could lead to better ways to treat brain disorders such as Alzheimer's.

 
SENATE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON AGING
HEARING: The National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease: Are We On Track to 2025?
2:00 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 106

WITNESSES:

Ashley Campbell, testifying on behalf of Glen Campbell and family

Don Moulds, PhD, Acting Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation, United States Department of Health and Human Services

Ronald Petersen, MD, PhD, Director of the Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging

Michael D. Hurd, PhD, Director, RAND Center for the Study of Aging