US drafts plan to fight Alzheimer's

2012-02-23 11:30
Washington - The Obama administration declared Alzheimer's "one of the most-feared health conditions" on Wednesday as it issued a draft of the nation's first strategy to fight the ominous rise in the mind-destroying disease.

More than five million Americans already have Alzheimer's or similar dementias, a toll expected to reach up to 16 million by 2050, along with skyrocketing medical and nursing home bills, because the population is ageing so rapidly.

The government's top goal: Find some effective ways to treat Alzheimer's by 2025. That is an ambitious quest. Today's treatments only temporarily ease symptoms. Scientists know that Alzheimer's brews for years before symptoms appear, but work to find better medications or at least stall the disease's emergence has been frustratingly slow.

Whether scientists can meet that deadline or not, the first draft of the National Alzheimer's Plan also makes clear that overwhelmed families need help right away to care for affected loved ones.

Moreover, as many as half of today's Alzheimer's sufferers have not been formally diagnosed, and the draft in part blames stigma and misinformation.

Steps

Among the draft's planned steps:

- A major public awareness campaign to help people know the early warning signs of Alzheimer's and what to do.

- Educate doctors and other health workers about how to recognise Alzheimer's, what medications are available now that can help with the disease's symptoms, and what social services may help families to cope.

- Improve early detection, in part by determining the best cognitive screening to offer during Medicare's new annual wellness visit.

- Improve training of caregivers, so they know what resources are available and how to handle common behaviour problems of dementia. Research shows that caregivers given such training are able to keep their loved ones at home for far longer.

- Study how to address the health needs of stressed and isolated caregivers.

Then there's the goal of better treatments. The National Institutes of Health spends about $450m a year on dementia research. This month, the Obama administration announced it would add an extra $50m to that tab this year, and seek $80m more to spend on Alzheimer's research in 2013.

It plans to spend about $26m on some of the plan's other provisions.

Funds

For comparison, the government spends nearly $3bn on Aids research; about 1.1 million Americans are living with the Aids virus.

The draft is open for public comment through March, and the government's Alzheimer's advisory council is sure to make changes before a final strategy is issued this year. But some of the work is not waiting: The NIH, for example, is bringing together top Alzheimer's scientists in May to discuss the most promising leads for better treatment.

Some members of that advisory council called the draft a good first step.

"They've covered the right topics. What is needed now is more detail," said Alzheimer's Association President Harry Johns. "There's real recognition at this point that Alzheimer's is devastating for not only the individual but for the families and caregivers."

"Today, with the strong commitment of federal leaders and louder outcry from the public, the urgency of the Alzheimer's disease crisis is being recognised and acted upon," said Eric J Hall, president of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
Read more on:    us  |  health

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.