ALLIE DOUGLASS | The Sun
Helene French, community outreach coordinator for the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, speaks during a caregivers discussion on Tuesday at the McCracken County Public Library. The Alzheimer's Association will host a town hall meeting for caregivers to voice their concerns about Alzheimer's issues to local and state legislators.
ALLIE DOUGLASS | The SunHelene French, community outreach coordinator for the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, speaks during a caregivers discussion on Tuesday at the McCracken County Public Library. The Alzheimer's Association will host a town hall meeting for caregivers to voice their concerns about Alzheimer's issues to local and state legislators.
Spreading awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is only half the battle in an increasingly costly malady, as advocates encourage the community to take the next step toward beating the disease.
The Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association plans to host an informational town hall meeting at the McCracken County Public Library from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday in hopes of moving the conversation forward about the latest Alzheimer’s issues and the urgency of taking legislative action.
Helene French, community outreach coordinator for the chapter, said the public is invited to participate in the meeting that will focus on the current status of the National Alzheimer’s Plan, government research and funding, and caregiver testimonials.
French said the goal of the meeting is to urge leaders to recognize the importance of federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease, and encourage action on related legislation.
“We’re trying to get our legislators’ attention that we need money for research and our caregivers,” French said.
According to data from the organization’s 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures report released in March, about 1 in 3 seniors will die from Alzheimer’s as more than 5 million people live with the disease daily, and an estimated 16 million will develop the disease by 2050.
The organization contends that Alzheimer’s is the only top-10 cause of death in the nation without a way to prevent, cure or slow its progression. The facts and figures report listed Alzheimer’s attributable deaths increased 68 percent between 2000-2010, while deaths from other major diseases — HIV (-42 percent), stroke (-23 percent) and heart disease (-16 percent) — declined.
And the issue isn’t one that’s likely to go away any time soon without intervention as an aging baby boomer generation could increase the number of Alzheimer’s patients in Kentucky alone by 23 percent within the next 12 years.
“People are exhausted, fed up and they need help,” French said.
The National Alzheimer’s Project Act, passed by Congress in December 2012, led to the creation of the National Alzheimer’s Plan in May 2012. The plan allowed for the creation of an advisory council that provides annual updates and recommendations to Congress about actions to eliminate the disease and lower costs for caregivers, in addition to other functions.
The association will also discuss the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act that seeks to improve medical outcomes through expanded diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and improve access to information for newly diagnosed individuals.
“We’re hoping that folks are able to come out and get the attention of their legislators so (caregivers and patients) can get the support they need,” French said.
Personally impacted by the scope of Alzheimer’s disease, Rep. Will Coursey plans to attend Thursday’s meeting and help spread awareness of the disease that took his grandparents.
“I do have a personal interest in being there because of the impact Alzheimer’s has had on me and my family,” Coursey said.
“I want to do all that I can to bring more light to the subject.”
People who wish to participate in the town hall meeting at the library are encouraged to pre-register by calling 1-800-272-3900 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676 or follow @WCPinkston on Twitter.