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Preparing the Nation to Better Address the Challenge of Alzheimer’s Disease

Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, discusses the Obama Administration's commitment to strengthening our nation’s response to Alzheimer's disease.

Last week, we brought together leading Alzheimer’s disease advocates, researchers, health and long-term care experts, and others to commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day.  Alzheimer’s disease is not only a fatal disease that robs individuals of their memories and leads to progressive mental and physical impairments, it is also a serious and growing threat to the health of the nation.  While estimates vary, upwards of 5 million people in the United States are believed to be living with Alzheimer’s disease and it’s the seventh leading cause of death in this country. 

The Obama Administration is committed to strengthening our nation’s response to the disease and this meeting was a serious effort to better understand the challenges and opportunities available to us.  The meeting brought together some of the Administration’s key leaders in responding to the disease, including Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at HHS, Dr. Richard Hodes, Director of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform.

The meeting also included distinguished outside experts as well.  Admiral David Satcher, former United States Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary for Health and member of the bipartisan Alzheimer’s Study Group presented key recommendations from the Study Group’s report.  We were also joined by people living with Alzheimer’s disease, nationally recognized researchers, and persons with expertise in health care delivery and family caregiving issues.

By coming together and recommitting ourselves, we can and must do more to tackle this serious challenge. 

I encourage you to watch the video of the meeting.