What Can You Do About Alzheimer’s?

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A researcher demonstrates brain changes that occur with a diagnosis of dementia.

Every person who has loved someone with Alzheimer’s disease knows the toll the disease takes on the person living with the disease and the family. But, there IS hope. Our nation eradicated polio, we’ve invested in research for AIDS, heart disease and cancer and we’ve seen great returns. There are now survivors for each of these diseases and people with these conditions can live well and enjoy life thanks to the advances made and treatments available.

If we are going to see effective treatments that do more than delay nursing home placement and can help provide for a good quality of life after a diagnosis of dementia, or even better find ways to prevent the disease, we have to step up our support of Alzheimer’s research.

The Alzheimer’s Association diligently lobbies congress for increased funding of research and Congress now appropriates about $586 million per year for Alzheimer’s and related dementias research. The Alzheimer’s Association also raises funds to support research world-wide, making the Association the third largest funder of research world-wide, only behind the National Institute of Health and China.

Funding is one of the two most significant unmet needs for furthering Alzheimer’s research. The second unmet need is for volunteers to participate in clinical trials. The requirements for participants are minimal compared to the results that will create a future with effective treatments or preventative measures.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and an ideal time for individuals to make a commitment to help eradicate Alzheimer’s. An easy way to do this is to get enrolled in clinical trials by signing up for TrialMatch, a program of the Alzheimer’s Association. Signing up is easy, just visit www.alz.org/TrialMatch. The program allows individuals to register on-line and be matched with trials in the area where the participant lives. Healthy individuals as well as persons with early stage dementia are needed for the trials.

People who participate in clinical trials tell us they do it because it gives them the opportunity to do something about Alzheimer’s and they feel it is an honor to play a role in finding a cure. Age continues to be the biggest risk factor for getting Alzheimer’s and we all are aging. We need our brains. Help celebrate Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month by participating in a clinical trial near you.

Ginny Helms is the Vice President of Chapter Services & Public Policy at the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter

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