It is time we change our thinking on Alzheimer’s disease. Too often Alzheimer’s is treated as an aging issue, ignoring the public health consequences of a disease that someone in the U.S. develops every 66 seconds. And with two-thirds of its annual costs being borne by Medicare and Medicaid, it is one that demands more attention from our government.

I understand the disease’s impact since I am a public health professional, and I understand the emotional costs since my grandmother and father suffered and died from this devastating disease. We must do more to help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s since the burden is growing larger. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is projected to triple to as many as 16 million in 2050, and the costs are expected to rise to $1.1 trillion. Congress has a chance to take decisive action by passing the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 2076/H.R. 4256).

Alzheimer's Q&A: Is there hope?

Endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association, the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act would create an Alzheimer’s public health infrastructure across the country to implement effective Alzheimer's interventions including increasing early detection and diagnosis, reducing risk and preventing avoidable hospitalizations. Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the United States. Alzheimer’s costs the country more than $259 billion a year, which is why we need the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act. If we are going to end Alzheimer’s disease, then we must start treating it like the public health threat it is.We are fortunate that U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond has been instrumental in passing previous legislation which helps those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Join me in asking U.S. Rep. Richmond to continue to fight for the millions of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s by sponsoring the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act.

Kathleen Welch

adjunct professor in public health

New Orleans