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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 5, 2020 03:28 PM
From: Representative Kate A. Klunk
To: All House members
Subject: Designating June 2020 as Alzheimers and Brain Awareness Month
In the near future, I plan to introduce a resolution to designate June 2020 as “Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania to promote greater awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD), and the need to address the human, economic and public health burden throughout the Commonwealth.

Alzheimer’s disease is a terminal, degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and in Pennsylvania, and the only cause of death among the top 10 that cannot currently be prevented, cured or even slowed.

With the progressive degeneration of the disease comes the need for greater care and support for the more 280,000 Pennsylvanians living with the disease, which is projected to increase 14.3% by the year 2025. In 2019, there were over 677,000 ADRD family caregivers providing 771 million hours of unpaid care valued at $10.1 billion right here in Pennsylvania. Only about half of those living with the disease have been diagnosed and less than half (45 percent) of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or their caregivers are aware of the diagnosis, which is often delayed due to low public awareness of the early signs of Alzheimer’s, general misperceptions about ADRD and the lack of discussion about cognitive concerns between older adults and their physicians during wellness visits.

Alzheimer's is also the most expensive disease in the country, costing American taxpayers an estimated $305 billion in 2019. Even further, Medicare and Medicaid costs for caring with someone with dementia are exponentially higher, at $195 billion in 2019. In Pennsylvania, Medicaid costs of caring for people with Alzheimer’s accounted for $3.54 billion in the same year and is projected to increase 12.5% by the year 2025. As the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s grows, the total annual payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with ADRD are projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050.

Given the human toll of the disease, the health and economic impact on caregivers and the increasing cost of care throughout the care continuum that has the potential to bankrupt state budgets, Pennsylvania should confront this disease head-on as a true public health epidemic and find population-based solutions that will minimize future impact of ADRD, improve the well-being and quality of life of those living with it, reduce costs associated with it, and attend to the caregiver’s health of well-being.

Please join me in creating more awareness of ADRD and the need for Pennsylvania to do more to address cognitive health by cosponsoring this resolution. I also encourage my colleagues to become more familiar with the Alzheimer’s Association local programs and services available throughout your community, in addition to sharing the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline (1-800-272-3900) with your district offices, which provides assistance to more than 310,000 callers each year, offering translation services in more than 200 languages.

Introduced as HR904