Alzheimer's Disease Research and Programs Fare Well in Federal Budget

Alzheimer's Association
Thursday, 29 January 2004

Alzheimer's disease research and programs fared well in the federal omnibus budget appropriation package (HR 2673). The package included the Labor/HHS/Education and Commerce/Justice/State appropriations bills that fund Alzheimer research and the Alzheimer's Association's Safe Return Program, among other Alzheimer programs. Alzheimer research received an approximate 3.7 percent increase.

"Alzheimer research needs a strong and sustained effort, because the number of Americans with Alzheimer's (4.5 million today) will increase to between 11 and 16 million by 2050, and because discovering effective methods and treatments that will delay its onset and progression, as well as prevent it, are well within reach in the foreseeable future," said Sheldon Goldberg, President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association.

"We must continue the momentum in Alzheimer research, with Congress and the President substantially increasing funding for Alzheimer research to $1 billion, as well as expanding programs and services to help the millions of families across the country who are living with Alzheimer's disease today and the millions more who may face this disease in the future. Our ultimate goal is a world without Alzheimer's disease," Goldberg said.

Funding for Alzheimer Research at the NIH Will Increase to $661 Million

Under this legislation, funding for Alzheimer research is expected to rise to approximately $661 million in fiscal year 2004, a $21 million increase over FY 03 funding of $640 million. This is a considerable drop from the 15-16 percent increase NIH received over the past five years.

"Twenty years of investment in the National Institutes of Health, combined with steady scientific progress, have led to advances no one would have imagined 20 years ago," Goldberg said. "We are well into an era of discovery that has already brought tangible benefits. The Alzheimer's Association calls on President Bush and Congress to seize the opportunity of a future without Alzheimer's disease by ensuring that the NIH has the resources it needs to fund promising research."

AoA Funding to Support 24-Hour National Alzheimer's Call Center

HR 2673 includes $1 million in additional funding for an Administration of Aging (AoA) grant to support the Alzheimer's Association Contact Center. The Contact Center grant is part of AoA's effort to increase access to services and programs and enhance consumer assistance for older Americans.

"The National Call Center is all about connecting people with Alzheimer's, families and caregivers with professionals who understand the disease and its impact and who can provide information about Alzheimer's disease, treatments, and care strategies, and links to community programs and resources," Goldberg said. "Callers also can receive confidential care consultation with master's level clinicians providing decision-making support, crisis assistance and education on issues people with dementia and their families face every day."

The Alzheimer's Association will use the grant to expand its current 24-hour nationwide Contact Center and work more closely with AoA and the aging services network, such as collaborating with the AoA Eldercare Locator program (a nationwide service connecting older Americans and their caregivers with information on senior services) and other programs for a coordinated national network of community-based organizations.

Full Funding As Safe Return Enters Second Decade

HR 2673 provides $892,000 funding for the Safe Return Program, operated by the Alzheimer's Association in partnership with the U. S. Department of Justice. Safe Return is a nationwide system to register and identify individuals with Alzheimer's or a related dementia who are at risk of wandering and to locate and return them home when they are lost. Since 1993 when the Safe Return Program began, the Alzheimer's Association has registered more than 100,000 people with Alzheimer's disease and has facilitated the recovery of nearly 8,000 of those individuals who have wandered, and safely returned them to their families and caregivers.

"Wandering is one of the most frightening and potentially life-threatening behaviors that may accompany Alzheimer's disease, and often, one of the first warning signs of the disease," Goldberg said. "As many as 60 percent of the 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease will wander at some point, often leaving home and unable to find their way back. Because no two people experience Alzheimer's disease in the same way, it is impossible to predict which individuals with Alzheimer's will wander and get lost. However, if a person wanders once, they will likely do it again."

Increased Funding for Family Caregiver Support Program, Reduced Funding for Alzheimer's Demonstration Grants

Funding for the Family Caregiver Support Program increased to $153.6 million (a $4.6 million increase over current $149 million funding) for State Units on Aging (SUA) and Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) to expand and enhance existing caregiver support services. HR 2673 also includes approximately $11.9 million to support the Alzheimer's Disease Demonstration Grant program that the AoA administers in 39 states to develop innovative services for people with Alzheimer's. The appropriation is a $1.5 million reduction from the current (FY04) funding level ($13.4 million).

"The Alzheimer's Association applauds lawmakers for recognizing the importance of community-based programs, such as respite care, adult day care, counseling services and caregiver training, as well as appropriate family support services," Goldberg said. These programs and services address very important ongoing and changing needs among the 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer's, and the millions more of their families and caregivers."

For more information, or to contact Alzheimer's Association, see their website at: www.alz.org

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