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Input Needed for National Strategic Plan to Deal with Alzheimer's

Last January, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act or NAPA was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama.  The law will create a national strategic plan to address the illness and will coordinate Alzheimer’s disease efforts across the federal government.

Rob Hulstra is community outreach coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association of Southwest Missouri.  He says the disease has become the 6thleading cause of death in the U.S. and the 5thleading cause in people 65 and older.  And he says it’s the only disease in the top ten causes of death with absolutely no cure at this point.

Hulstra says the Alzheimer’s Association is holding a public input session to find out what would be the best way to approach dealing with the disease…

"There's some feeling that there's not been enough done to assist people with Alzheimer's disease or the folks who care for them."

Hulstra hopes anyone with Alzheimer’s, their carepartners and surviving spouses, family members and friends will attend…

"It's not going to be a question and answer session, it's going to be an opportunity for folks who have that singular unique view and experience with the disease--what they've experienced and what would be a good plan or what would be part of a good plan to install nationwide."

The Department of Health and Human Services and the national Alzheimer’s Association will take any suggestions and consider them as they develop a national strategic plan.

Hulstra hopes the effort will result in increased research into the causes of and cures for Alzheimer’s.  He says, currently 5.4 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the disease and it’s estimated there could be as many as 16 million living with the illness by the middle of the century.  He says that would have a huge economic impact…

"We're already spending $183 billion annually just through Medicare dealing with this illness.  You multiply that times those factors--it's going to be very expensive."

The public input session is tomorrow afternoon (8/31) from 2 to 4 at the Northview Senior Center at Doling Park.  Hulstra believes some key talking points will be home care, dealing with caregiver stress and research.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.