Alzheimer's Disease runs through both sides of my family with my great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my uncles all facing Alzheimer’s during their lives. When you have a loved one suffering from dementia, it can feel like they are slipping away one day at a time. Each year, I meet with advocates from the Oklahoma Alzheimer’s Association to discuss what we can do to put an end to this life altering illness. I met with them earlier this month to discuss what Congress can do to help. Everyone who is impacted by Alzheimer’s understands the gravity of this disease and I want them to know I am behind their efforts to find a cure.
As a member of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, I took part in championing the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill that provided the National Institutes of Health with the funding necessary to accelerate the discovery and development of new cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases. When the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law, it set aside $1.6 billion for research on brain diseases. Since the bill was signed into law, I had the opportunity to question the NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, about the many advances they have made in researching conditions like Alzheimer’s. As a society, we have deepened our understanding of the disease and brought us closer to finding a cure.
Patients who are suffering from chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and need end of life care will now have more options and resources available. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, which I cosponsored, seeks to increase the ability of hospices and nursing homes to provide care to patients who are suffering from memory conditions. The bill, which passed the House in July, will provide more education and training for health care professionals to ease the burden on families, and provide those suffering from diseases like Alzheimer’s with the care they need.
For me, I’m hopeful that the 21st Century Cures and additional legislation passed by Congress will provide advancements in the studies on Alzheimer’s. Every parent wants their children to live a long and happy life. Similarly, every child wants to see their parents grow old and gray in a healthy way. I am hopeful that when I’m in the later years of my life, my kids won’t have to experience the heavy burden that Alzheimer’s can put on a family.