According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of the death in the United States and affects more than 5.3 million Americans. This means every 67 seconds, another person develops this heartbreaking disease. In Ohio alone, there are more than 210,000 people aged 65 and over who suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Tragically, Alzheimer’s, which is a type of dementia, is also one of the few major diseases whose causes researchers still do not know how to effectively slow the progress of, treat or prevent. Although patients can benefit from treatment and medication, many still struggle with symptoms including: memory loss, confusion and declining conversational skills.
Here in Ohio, medical researchers at centers such as Ohio State and the Cleveland Clinic are working hard to understand the disease and find better treatments. While they continue their research, far too many current Alzheimer’s patients and their families struggle with the high cost of the disease and the difficulty of understanding treatments. Currently, the cost of caring for Alzheimer’s patients totals $226 billion and that number only increases each year.
This is why I am a co-sponsor of the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act of 2015, H.R. 1559. This bill, which was introduced by my colleague Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, would expand access under Medicare to comprehensive care planning for individuals newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It would arm new Alzheimer’s patients and their families with the information they need to develop the treatment plans that are right for them.
I am proud to support legislation such as H.R. 1559, and I hope that you will join me in raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease this June during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. Also, I encourage you to get involved in the cause of Alzheimer’s care and outreach. You can learn more about volunteering with the Central Ohio chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association by calling 614-457-6003 or visiting their website at www.alz.org/centralohio/.
As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Ohio’s 15th Congressional District and I look forward to hearing from you about this or any federal issues facing our nation. Please do not hesitate to call my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-2015, Hilliard office at 614-771-4968, Lancaster office at 7400654-2654, or Wilmington office at 937-283-7049 to share your thoughts with me.
Steve Stivers is an U.S. Congressman representing the 15th district of Ohio.