Speaking in Ogden recently, John Kauwe, assistant professor of biology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, was very frank. He said, "Alzheimer's is the most expensive disease that our country is dealing with. It is the largest financial burden on our country, as far as diseases go."
We need to increase funding for research on Alzheimer's, a heart-rending, eventually fatal disease which has no cure. It is, as Kauwe explains, caused by a combination of genetics, lifestyle and environment. There's no magic cure or specific prevention activity or lifestyle that can prevent Alzheimer's if it decides to strike. It causes anguish for the loved ones of its victims, as it strips away the memories and the personality of the Alzheimer's sufferer. It takes a tremendous toll on those who care for the patient and it entails a huge financial responsibility.
Kauwe says that if we continue to maintain current spending levels on the disease, "our country will buckle under the weight of caring for the people who are suffering from this disease." Just consider the baby boom generation, producing tremendous numbers of retirees each day, many of whom have or will get Alzheimer's.
As Kauwe notes, a lot of money is spent trying to understand Alzheimer's, and there has been progress, including the discoveries of 20 genes that help understand various stages of the disease. However, more research needs to be done to understand why these genes cause Alzheimer's. To get closer to understanding those questions will cost a lot of money in research.
As Kauwe notes, we can do more than merely lobby for more funding. Become personal advocates to fight Alzheimer's by donating money, and time, which includes participating in efforts such as clinical trials, he said. There's also a website, http://alz.org, and a phone number, (800) 272-3900, to contact the Alzheimer's Association. There are so many of us affected, directly or indirectly, by this terrible disease. Let's do what we can to mitigate the pain.