Alzheimer’s is a complicated and puzzling disease. It is frequently said that no two cases are alike, and often times is difficult knowing who has it or what causes it. We cannot prevent it, and we cannot cure it.
Our work at the Alzheimer’s Association Western and Central Washington State Chapter, however, is really quite simple. Its essence can be found in three Cs: care, cause, and cure.
For us, care is manifested in the programs and services that we provide to the individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s, and other dementias. This includes our toll-free, 24/7 Helpline, assistance to family and caregiver support groups, customized and ongoing care consultation through our Connections program, and continuing education and training for family and professional caregivers.
Our commitment to the cause of Alzheimer’s is reflected in the passion and persistence of the thousands of elected officials, at all levels of government.
With the strong support of the Alzheimers Association and hundreds of thousands of volunteer advocates, Congress unanimously passed the National Alzheimers Project Act (NAPA) in 2010. NAPA mandates the creation and implementation of a National Alzheimers Plan. They are responsible for coordinating the federal governments response to the public health epidemic, that Alzheimers disease and related dementias represent. Under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services, the final draft of the National Alzheimers Plan was released on May 15, 2012.
We are bringing the world together in search of a cure for Alzheimers disease. The Alzheimers Association is the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimers research in the world. Since we began funding research in 1982, we have provided over $292 million to more than 2,000 best-of-field investigations.
As host of the annual Alzheimers Association International Conference on Alzheimers disease (AAIC), we convene the worlds largest gathering of Alzheimers and dementia researchers to create an international discussion of the latest findings in the field. This dialogue fuels new ideas, that may one day result in treatments to change the course of the disease. In 2011, AAIC drew nearly 5,600 researchers from 84 countries.The 2012 AAIC will be held July 14-19 in Vancouver, BC.
We lead the World-Wide Alzheimers Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (WW-ADNI). This is a consortium of international investigators working to establish globally recognized standards for identifying and diagnosing the disease. Working with the National Institute on Aging, we engaged groups of scientists to examine the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease which were established more than 25 years agoand propose new criteria including the use of the latest advances in biomarker research.
Our International Society to Advance Alzheimers Research and Treatment (ISTAART) is a professional society for individuals interested in Alzheimer’s and dementia science. This includes scientists, physicians, and other professionals involved in the causes and treatments of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
One of the greatest obstacles to advancing research is the lack of participation in clinical trials. We estimate that there are currently 127 active trials. It takes, on average, 4.6 months to complete enrollment in a trial. At that rate, the enrollment process delays the discovery of new treatments by 587 months! In 2010, as part of the Alzheimers Association Clinical Studies Initiative, we launched TrialMatch, a free, confidential, interactive, online service to connect eligible volunteers with clinical trials. TrialMatch accelerates the enrollment process and allows people with Alzheimer’s to play a more active role in their own treatment, while contributing to scientific discovery.
I believe there is a fourth c in which you play an integral role; Collaboration. We have the best chance to realize our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s when we work together.
If you would like to access our programs and services, add your face and voice to our advocacy efforts. Learn more about Alzheimers research by calling our toll-free 24-hour Helpline at 1-800-272-3900, or visit our website at www.alzwa.org. If you would like to support our care, cause, and cure, please let us hear from you.
The end of Alzheimers begins with us.
Bob Le Roy is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Alzheimers Association, Western and Central Washington State Chapter.