HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Every 67 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. More than five million Americans live with the very serious form of dementia.
Yet Alzheimer’s doesn’t just affect those five million who are diagnosed, taking their memories and eventually their lives, it also tragically changes the lives of the families and friends who love them.
In 2013, there were 15.5 million people serving as unpaid caregivers for their loved ones — a stressful, painful, and full-time job. Some of those caregivers joined health care and social service agencies at Holyoke Community College Friday morning to talk to lawmakers about their critical need for attention and funding. Even if you don’t know anyone with Alzheimer’s, your tax money is still paying for the expensive disease. For Alan Holbrook, it’s a lot more personal than that.
“About nine years ago, my wife was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. She was only 57 at the time. That totally destroyed and plans we had for our golden years,” Holbrook said.
One of the legislative topics discussed Friday morning was the Acute Care Act, which asks lawmakers to form a committee to help hospitals across the state become more capable of serving cognitively-impaired patients. Holbrook said he hopes Congress will move toward putting more money into life-saving research, as Alzheimer’s gets just a small fraction of funding compared to other leading causes of death like heart disease and cancer.