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Statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

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Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disease, destroying memory and the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living, and ultimately causing death. It can be devastating to the people living with Alzheimer's as well as the family and friends devoted to them. We recognize during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in November that as many as 5.1 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's. The number is predicted to more than double by 2050 unless more effective ways are found to treat and prevent this disease.

This disease takes an emotional and financial toll on families and strains our national health care system.

Last year President Obama signed the bipartisan National Alzheimer's Project Act to give us a clear national focus on Alzheimer's. This spring, we released the National Plan to address Alzheimer's disease, a roadmap to helping prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's by 2025.

And the President made an historic commitment to combat Alzheimer's, including an infusion of additional research dollars this year and a national awareness campaign launched this past summer.

These new research investments include genetics research to identify risk and protective factors for the disease, as well as a clinical trial to test if a mechanism to quickly and safely deliver insulin to the brain can improve memory, cognition, and daily functioning.

Also, we frequently hear that people with Alzheimer's and their families feel isolated and do not know where to turn for solid information. The national Alzheimer's awareness campaign is spreading the word about a new website, www.alzheimers.gov, which serves as a one-stop resource for families and caregivers and provides reliable, comprehensive information about Alzheimer's disease. We have also invested in Geriatric Education Centers, to expand the development of dementia-specific training for health care providers.

We have much more work to do, but we cannot achieve our goal of eliminating the burden of Alzheimer's disease by ourselves. We need even greater public engagement to help recognize the signs of Alzheimer's, to ensure that people receive a timely diagnosis, and to help support families and friends struggling with the disease. Please join me during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, and beyond, to redouble our efforts to create a brighter, healthier future.


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