|June 7, 2005
A year ago this week, the nation paid tribute to former president Ronald Reagan, who died at age 93 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Today, the fortieth president's legacy lives on in renewed efforts to better understand the underlying causes of the disease and to find a cure for the devastating illness.
Reagan's illness, played out in the public arena for over a decade, greatly raised awareness of the tremendous physical, emotional and financial burdens that surround the care and management of Alzheimer's. "Ronald Reagan was the most powerful and well-known public figure to come forward and admit to the world that he suffers from this debilitating disease," said Paul Greengard, Ph.D., at the time of the former president's death. "His admission was a major step forward in galvanizing public attention to this disease so that a cure might be found." Greengard is the Nobel Prize-winning director of the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research at The Rockefeller University, one of the world's largest scientific laboratories devoted to researching Alzheimer's.
During this past year, lawmakers in the nation's capital introduced the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act. The bill would double research funding for Alzheimer's disease at the National Institutes of Health to $1.4 billion. The legislation also proposes family caregivers receive tax credits and would double funding for caregiver support and Alzheimer's care programs. Initially sponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, and Senator Kit Bond, R-Missouri, the bill now has 43 co-sponsors.
Continued funding for the research, prevention, and treatment of Alzheimer's is urgently needed. Scientists are hopeful that continued efforts will lead to major breakthroughs in prevention and treatment in the coming years. An estimated 4.5 million Americans now suffer from Alzheimer's disease. That number is expected to triple to nearly 14 million by 2050 if a cure is not found.
Donations to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation can be sent by mail to The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation, 199 Water Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10038. Donations can also be made by phoning 1-800-ALZINFO, or by visiting the Alzheimer's Information Site at www.ALZinfo.org. The Website also includes in-depth resources and advice for Alzheimer's patients and caregivers.
By www.ALZinfo.org, The Alzheimer's Information Site. Reviewed by , Ph.D., Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation at The Rockefeller University.