WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says nearly five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and it’s the sixth leading cause of death among adults.
It’s not just a disease for the elderly, however. In fact, 200,000 people under the age of 60 are living Alzheimer’s nationwide.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, is promoting a bipartisan bill called the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act seeking to ensure people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before age 60 can access programs and support services.
“Just in Pennsylvania alone, 280,000 people have this disease,” Casey said. “We lose more than 4,200 to Alzheimer’s’ every year.”
Sen. Casey believes Congress must do more, saying that research funding needs to be increased to really make an impact on the disease.
“We need billions of dollars more every year and we can certainly afford that for health research,” he said.
Clay Jacobs of the Greater Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Association told the Senate Special Committee on Aging that the CDC estimates 14 million people will be living with the disease by the year 2060.
“Alzheimer’s disease, I believe, is the public health crisis of our time,” he said.
During the hearing, senators from both parties vowed to work together to fund research for a cure and provide a comprehensive approach for care.
“While Alzheimer’s robs our loved ones of precious memories, I stand with you to do everything we can to make Alzheimer’s a memory one day,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said.
Collins, who chairs the committee, says progress has been made in accelerating research and advancing care but there’s more work to be done.