Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release:
November 1, 2006
Senator Richard Lerblance
Lerblance Reminds Citizens that November
is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month
Lerblance knows all too well the devastating affects - physically,
mentally and financially - that Alzheimer's can have on a family.
His mother began showing symptoms of the disease in 1991 and has
been totally incapacitated the past six years. For this reason,
Lerblance wants to help bring awareness to this horrible disease
and the fact that November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness
"In my mind, it is one of the worst diseases because people
lose their memories and essentially their entire existence. They
don't know who they are and they don't know who you or anyone else
is. They're just there," said Lerblance, D-Hartshorne. "It's
the hardest thing to watch someone you love be in a constant state
of confusion and irritation, or in my mother's case total incoherence,
and you can't do anything for them. They just fade away."
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually
destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make
judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. There are
currently around 4.5 million Americans age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s
and as baby boomers age, the number of Americans with the disease
will continue to grow to as many as 16 million in 2050. As of 2000,
there were approximately 62,000 Oklahomans with the disease and
that number is expected to jump 55 percent by 2025 to 96,000.
Despite these findings, Congress proposed a federal budget this
year that would cut the appropriation for research through the National
Institutes of Health. The proposed budget would have reduced research
back to the pre-2004 level, although the national Alzheimer’s
Association says $1 billion a year is needed for research. The budget
proposal would have also cut four vital Alzheimer’s programs,
one of which is called “Safe Return” which protects
and returns patients home safely if they wander off.
“With new technology allowing us to detect Alzheimer’s
in its earlier stages we’re redefining the face of the disease,”
said Bill Thies, vice president, medical and scientific affairs,
the Alzheimer’s Association. “Alzheimer’s is not
a normal part of aging, nor is it a disease confined to the elderly.
It is important to educate people as to the warning signs of the
disease as well as fund continued research as an earlier diagnosis
provides us a better understanding of the disease and allows us
more time to treat it.”
If the disease is not checked, Medicare costs related to it will
double to $50 billion within ten years according to the Alzheimer‘s
Association, while Medicaid costs are estimated to increase 80 percent
to $33 billion.
For this reason, Lerblance authored Senate Resolution 90 during
the 2006 legislative session urging Congress not to cut research
funding for the disease.
“Alzheimer’s research has the potential to save millions
of lives, billions of dollars, and untold family grief. It’s
an investment that we can’t turn our backs on,” said
Lerblance. “It’s an investment in the health of our
citizens and our future; and to me there is nothing more important.”
For more information contact:
Senator Lerblance's Office - (405) 521-5604