xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

We can promote awareness for Alzheimer’s amid the COVID-19 pandemic | READER COMMENTARY

Van Beall and his wife, Dr. Willa Brooks, a retired college professor who has Alzheimer's, look at a book they made at their home in Ellicott City. They went on an "ice cream tour" of several states and countries a few years ago. Dr. Brooks was placed in a memory care facility but it didn't work out for her. They are both happier with her being at home. May 13, 2020
Van Beall and his wife, Dr. Willa Brooks, a retired college professor who has Alzheimer's, look at a book they made at their home in Ellicott City. They went on an "ice cream tour" of several states and countries a few years ago. Dr. Brooks was placed in a memory care facility but it didn't work out for her. They are both happier with her being at home. May 13, 2020 (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Many lives have been impacted during these unprecedented times causing us to look forward to life after coronavirus. Adjusting to the recommended public health guidelines, such as social distancing and wearing a mask, has brought upon this idea of a new normal. This combined with a transition to a virtual environment has made the virus more tangible. Moreover, this COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the importance of public health as a collective effort between public and private sectors. It is increasingly important to be conscious of those individuals most susceptible to COVID-19. Today, approximately 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and remain a vulnerable population (”‘What’s best for Willa?’ Maryland families agonize over nursing home decisions during coronavirus pandemic,” May 29). Even more people are involved in caring for their loved ones with the disease and look to researchers, public health officials and congressional members for a solution.

In addition to adapting in readily available ways, a push has been made toward creating a vaccine for COVID-19. Although some promising initial results have been produced, public health strategies still remain our main line of defense. Similarly, Alzheimer’s is a growing public health crisis in America and has become more important than ever. COVID-19 disproportionately affects people over the age of 65 and puts those in assisted living facilities at immediate risk for community spread. Despite this, recent efforts have looked promising for Alzheimer’s. A major success has been bipartisan congressional leaders announcing a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s and dementia research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for fiscal year 2020. If signed into law, funding would reach a total of $2.8 billion. This would correspond to a sixfold increase since the passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA). The Alzheimer’s Association has championed this legislation and is optimistic about working toward a solution to prevent, slow, or cure Alzheimer’s.

Advertisement

The important thing is scientists are continuing to search for treatments and prevention. All the while, public health plays an important role in promoting cognitive function and reducing the risk of cognitive decline by educating the public and increasing awareness about the disease. It is crucial we invest nationwide in an Alzheimer’s public health response to achieve a higher quality of life for those living with the disease and their caregivers. Additionally, we are promoting support for our three main 2020 asks: 1) Prevent Elder Abuse Act, 2) Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, and 3) Expand Access to Credit for Nonprofits.

Caring for a grandmother with dementia has given me insight into the challenges families face while caring for a loved one. This personal connection has been a major reason why I have worked on spreading awareness for Alzheimer’s and advocating for the many individuals across the country living with the disease.

Advertisement

Please join me in asking for support in an increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia funding for our three main 2020 asks. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s.

Daniel Najafali, College Park

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement