Advisory Council discusses significant recommendations for National Alzheimer's Plan
During the second meeting of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care and Services, in-depth discussions took place about goals and strategies to change the trajectory of Alzheimer's disease. The Department of Health and Human Services also outlined its timetable for the development of a national Alzheimer's plan with the first draft targeted for mid-February and a final plan unveiled in late spring.
"Alzheimer's can't wait and families won't forget," said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association and member of the Advisory Council. "For the first time ever, families grappling with this progressive, degenerative and ultimately fatal disease can have real hope that a national strategy addressing the escalating Alzheimer's crisis is coming."
Today, as many as 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's with nearly 15 million friends and family members often providing exhaustive, around the clock care for them. While the human toll is alarming, the economic costs are also staggering, rising from $183 billion this year to more than $1 trillion by 2050. Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death and the only one among the top 10 without a way to cure, prevent or even slow its progression.
The National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA), unanimously passed with full bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by President Obama, authorized the process currently underway to develop a national Alzheimer's plan. The law also created the Advisory Council, which is made up of stakeholders from across the Alzheimer's community as well as representatives from several federal agencies with Alzheimer's initiatives and which is charged with providing recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to inform the development of the national plan.
"This process is about changing the course of Alzheimer's disease," continued Johns. "It is about setting the path for that change right away with an aggressive timeline. Developing an urgent, achievable and accountable strategy for Alzheimer's is about hope for millions of people today and tomorrow. What we need now is a meaningful plan with appropriate resources that, when fully implemented, will bring us from possibility to reality."
Advisory Council members shared their recommendations on what they believe must be included in an effective national strategic plan touching on areas from research to clinical care to long term services and support. The Advisory Council subcommittee on research provided recommendations on a broad range of issues including an increase to $2 billion for research to fund initiatives spanning the Alzheimer's research spectrum. The subcommittee also discussed the designation of an office or individual with responsibility and accountability within the federal government for implementation of the plan.
Improving clinical care was the focus of another Advisory Council subcommittee and its members offered a variety of innovative ideas including targeted implementation steps to improve early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's that includes essential care planning for families and building a health care workforce that is trained to meet the unique needs of older Americans living with Alzheimer's and dementia.
The third subcommittee was charged with exploring ways to improve long-term services and supports. Its recommendations included ensuring a full array of support services will be available to individuals with younger-onset Alzheimer's disease that meet the distinct needs of this population. This group also detailed the importance of establishing standards of care for people with Alzheimer's throughout the different stages of the disease and in all care settings.
The next in-person meeting of the Advisory Council meeting is scheduled for April 17.
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. For more information, visit www.alz.org.