U.S. Launches National Alzheimer’s Plan

The Obama administration is funneling millions of dollars toward finding new ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer's debilitating dementia.

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More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. On Tuesday, the Obama Administration announced the launch of the National Alzheimer’s Plan, with the goal of finding effective ways to prevent and treat the devastating effects of dementia by 2025.

“This is a strong plan that promises important progress when implemented,” Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement about the new plan. “For all Americans – not just the more than 5 million living with Alzheimer’s and their 15 million caregivers today – this plan is a historic achievement.”

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The current initiatives underway include funding for Alzheimer’s research projects by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Two of those projects involve a $7.9 million clinical trial testing an insulin nasal spray for treating the disease and a $16 million study that is the first prevention trial in people at the highest risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

There is also increased funding for improving high-quality training for physicians and a media campaign to be launched this summer.

For patients needing support now, the Health and Human Services (HHS) department has a new website with extensive resources for Alzheimer’s patients and their families.

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Here are the five major goals of the plan:

  • Prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025: The Obama Administration has already invested  $50 million in new Alzheimer’s disease research funding for this year and $80 million in research for 2013. “These investments will open new opportunities in Alzheimer’s disease research and jumpstart efforts to reach the 2025 goal,” the authors write.
  • Optimize care quality and efficiency: To better educate Alzheimer’s caregivers and physicians, the administration announced a $6 million investment over two years for provider education and outreach.
  • Expand support for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families: “Supporting people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families and caregivers requires giving them the tools that they need, helping to plan for future needs, and ensuring that safety and dignity are maintained,” the report says. The announcement proposes an investment of $10.5 million for 2013 to support the needs of caregivers.
  • Enhance public awareness and engagement: The report says 85% of people surveyed can identify Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms, but misperceptions can lead to delayed diagnoses and stigmas. The administration is investing $8.2 million over two years, starting this year, to support public awareness initiatives.
  • Track progress and drive improvement: The administration proposes to invest $1.3 million in 2013 for data collection improvement and increased understanding of the disease’s impact on people with the disease, their families and the health care system.

“These actions are the cornerstones of a historic effort to fight Alzheimer’s disease,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in the announcement. “This is a national plan — not a federal one — because reducing the burden of Alzheimer’s will require the active engagement of both the public and private sectors.”