Local Alzheimer’s advocates head to DC to appeal to Congress

Six Charlotte area residents will participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C., April 23-25. Greg and Laura Mercer, Dr. Bryan Connell, Dr. Jon McKinsey, William Scurry and Teresa Hoover along with other advocates from across North Carolina, will join hundreds of people with the disease, caregivers and family members from across the nation to engage in the democratic process and directly appeal to their members of Congress about Alzheimer’s disease.

The Advocacy Forum will include a keynote address from Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, a candlelight tribute rally, educational sessions and updates on research and legislative efforts. The event culminates when the advocates descend on Capitol Hill to meet directly with legislators.

Alzheimer’s advocates were vital to the passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) and will now be asking members of Congress to support an aggressive National Alzheimer’s Plan that accelerates and prioritizes government efforts on Alzheimer’s necessary to change the trajectory of the disease. Today an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s – a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease that has no way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression; and by mid-century as many as 16 million people will have Alzheimer’s.

In North Carolina alone, nearly 170,000 residents have Alzheimer’s and as many as 415,521 friends and family members manage the significant emotional, physical and financial challenges of caregiving for their loved ones.

Because Alzheimer’s simply can’t wait, it is crucial for lawmakers to address the Alzheimer’s crisis with the same commitment they demonstrated in the legislation’s historic passage. Greg and Laura Mercer hope to represent all of the families that have been impacted by Alzheimer’s as Laura was diagnosed in 2008 at age 48 with young-onset Alzheimer’s.

“I’m one of millions of people in the United States affected by Alzheimer’s disease,” said Laura Mercer. “This disease doesn’t just happen to individuals; its ripple effects are felt throughout entire families and communities. I am going to Capitol Hill to tell lawmakers the Alzheimer’s epidemic must be meaningfully addressed by government and a strong national strategy would signal their recognition of this fact.”

While the human toll is significant, the Alzheimer’s Association 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report also revealed the costs to the nation to care for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are staggering as well. In the United States, care costs will total an estimated $200 billion this year, including $140 billion paid by Medicare and Medicaid and these costs are projected to soar to $1.1 trillion in 2050.

For more information on how you can advocate visit www.alz.org/advocacy.

Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s 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 alz.org or call our 24-Hour Helpline at 800-272-3900.