Cindy Harris (Right) receives the Advocate of the Year Award from the Alzheimer’s Association during their annual forum in Washington, D.C. on April 1, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Cindy Harris)

Cindy Harris (Right) receives the Advocate of the Year Award from the Alzheimer’s Association during their annual forum in Washington, D.C. on April 1, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Cindy Harris)

Letter to the Editor: Join the fight against Alzheimer’s

I understand firsthand the enormous burden this disease has on the families and the economy.

  • Thursday, May 16, 2019 11:53pm
  • Opinion

Join the fight against Alzheimer’s today

There are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, including 8,000 here in Alaska. More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, including 33,000 here in Alaska. I was one of those Americans.

For the individual living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, care planning is essential to learning about medical and non-medical treatments, clinical trials and support services available in their community. Accessing these services results in a higher quality of life. As a caregiver for my mother who had Alzheimer’s, I understand firsthand the enormous burden this disease has on the families and the economy. For someone who flew to another state to give respite care, not only was it a financial cost for myself, the emotional toll is devastating to watch.

Thankfully, as of January 2017, Medicare covers critical care planning services. However, not enough patients and providers are aware of this resource. That is why in April, I — along with 1,300 other advocates from across the country — went to D.C. and asked Congress to co-sponsor the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 880/H.R 1873).

The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act would help educate clinicians on Alzheimer’s and dementia care planning services through Medicare. Endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association and its advocacy arm, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act will give them the knowledge and tools to better help their patient and families living with dementia after diagnosis. I wish we had the resources back when my mom was sick, that passing this bill, would bring the families of today.

Please join me in asking Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young to support the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act.

To learn more about this devastating disease and how you can join the fight to end Alzheimer’s, visit alzimpact.org.

Together we can be of the 1st survivor.

— Cindy Harris, Alzheimer’s Association Alaska Ambassador

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