On April 25, six Utahns representing the Alzheimer's Association, Utah Chapter, paid visits to Utah's two senators and three representatives. Their mission was to advocate for legislation for early diagnosis, care and research funding for this disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the nation.
Every member of the Utah delegation (called ambassadors) has a family member with this dreadful illness. There are currently 5.4 million people with Alzheimer's in the U.S. Payments for care in 2012 will be $200 billion. At the present rate of growth (the highest of any disease), the number of victims is projected to reach nearly 15 million by 2050 with costs for care surpassing the $1.1 trillion mark.
We hope that our work in Washington has had some positive effects. However, our legislators need to hear from the hundreds of thousands of friends and family members who care for loved ones slowly and sadly fading into the Alzheimer's abyss for our voice to have its full impact.
Our legislators should co-sponsor the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act and the Breakthrough Act. The need for action is immediate and critical.
Al Smith and Lee Ann Rawley
Salt Lake City