One million Americans are living with the AIDS virus, and the federal government annually spends $3 billion on research.
Five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia and the number is on track to double by 2050; yet the U.S. government spends just $450 million on the disease.
President Obama and the Department of Health and Humans Services today announced the first step in a plan to change these numbers and majorly boost funding for Alzheimer’s research. The decision will provide $156 million in added funds through 2013 if authorized by Congress, including an immediate infusion of $50 million to the National Institutes of Health for clinical research and $26 million for public awareness and support for caregivers. An additional $80 million would be released in 2013.
According to an NIH announcement, the funding will primarily support:
- Researching genes that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Testing therapies in individuals at the highest risk for the disease
- Expansion or acceleration of clinical trials
Engage As You Age applauds the increase in funding. But most of the money is earmarked for biomedical research, and would like to see some directed to researching the power of socialization as a way to prevent or delay cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression as a result of social isolation among senior citizens aging in place, often alone.
In talking to our senior citizen clients and their Activity Specialists, and observing both of them over time, we know that socialization improves quality of life, reduces loneliness and even boosts cognitive ability and awareness. The NIH could be a powerful national ally in identifying, testing and proving the impact of socialization on older adults and seniors with dementia, cognitive delays or Alzheimer’s.
Now we just need to get Obama on the phone and tell him as much.