Dear New York Times Editor,

On September 21, World Alzheimer’s Day, ambitious cyclists who have traveled more than 4,500 miles across the country will reach the steps of Capitol Hill to present congress with a petition signed by more than 100,000 individuals urging the government to take a more significant position on Alzheimer’s. The petition could not be more timely. According to a study published today, the costs of dementia around the globe are $604 billion. This amounts to a staggering 1% of the world’s gross domestic product. If dementia care were a company, it would maintain the world’s largest revenue, exceeding both Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil. If a cure is not found for this disease, it will most certainly bankrupt our healthcare system, as we cannot sustain its influx.

As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s; someone develops it every 70 seconds. It knows no social or economic boundaries. As the sixth leading cause of death in the country, Alzheimer’s surpasses diabetes, and remains the fifth primary cause of death among individuals 65 and older.

From 2000 to 2006, while deaths from other major diseases dropped – heart disease (-11.5 percent), breast cancer (-.6 percent), prostate cancer (-14.3 percent) and stroke (-18.1 percent), deaths from Alzheimer’s disease rose a staggering 47.1 percent. By mid-century, someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

We must act now by urging Congress to pass the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which is already in place in Australia, England, Scotland, Norway, South Korea, and France. The National Alzheimer’s Project Act will create a strategic plan for managing the influx of Alzheimer’s, by addressing the federal government’s efforts on Alzheimer’s research, care, and services.

More than 200,000 individuals in Georgia are living with Alzheimer’s, and 500,000 others are adversely affected due to their roles as caregiver. Supporting our local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter is imperative.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal brain disease that robs families of their loved ones and individuals of their freedom. It destroys brain cells, causing memory loss that leads to behavioral and mental problems.

Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but with a government strategic plan in place and local support, fresearch will continue and a cure can be found. Alzheimer’s disease was introduced as a condition in medical literature in 1907. More than 100 years later, I think it’s time we act.


Sally Huffstetler