June 21, 2019 is The Longest Day – the summer solstice. It is also a day to go purple and remember the Alzheimer’s community.
Many of us know The Longest Day too well. My father fought his battle with Alzheimer’s disease until a spring day in 2015, a day which feels like yesterday and an eternity ago at the same time. Until the brutal disease impacted my family, I was uneducated on how widespread Alzheimer’s disease truly is. The numbers will surprise you.
Alzheimer’s disease deteriorates both the mind and body, and it is considered the most expensive disease in the country. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s and related brain diseases will cost the country $290 billion in 2019 alone. Further, one in every five Medicare dollars is spent on someone with Alzheimer’s, and it is also the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
These statistics just scratch the surface. It is estimated that 5.8 Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is estimated to be 14 million after another thirty years. This is shocking.
However, I believe there is hope on the horizon. The 21st Century Cures Act, which I supported in Congress, aims to make speedy research possible by targeting the costliest diseases in our nation, including Alzheimer’s disease. This bill aims to spur 21st century research, innovation, and technology to find the ultimate cure through a high-risk, high-reward approach. Breakthroughs to improve the lives of millions are well within our reach if we stay focused, and I believe the 21st Century Cures Act has put us on the fast-track to results.
I pray every day that we are closer to a cure.
Until then, let’s go purple. Let’s make The Longest Day a little bit shorter. Let’s continue to support work that brings relief to patients, families, and caregivers. Let’s support June as Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, and let’s pause on The Longest Day and say a prayer for those that need hope.
I’m committed to cures in Congress, and I will continue to work until we get there.
Duncan represents South Carolina’s 3rd District and serves on House Energy and Commerce Committee.