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World Alzheimer's Action Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, today I wish to join my colleagues in bringing attention to Alzheimer's disease and dementia, which tragically affects so many people across our Nation, including in my home State of Hawaii. Today, the Alzheimer's Association recognizes World Alzheimer's Action Day as a way of raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with Alzheimer's. Sadly, this disease has touched the lives of the families of so many of my friends, colleagues, and staff.

In 2010, 27,000 people in Hawaii were living with Alzheimer's disease. Their family members and loved ones sacrificed to help them with nearly $800 million worth of unpaid care. Not only is this a devastating disease for the people afflicted with it, but the emotional and monetary costs to their families are enormous.

The reach of the disease continues to grow, and it is estimated that the cost of caring for people with Alzheimer's and other dementia in America will reach $1.1 trillion by 2050. Despite the fact that Alzheimer's has affected so many, the disease itself remains poorly understood. Not only does it cause memory loss and confusion, but it is also the sixth leading cause of death nationwide.

During the last Congress, my colleagues and I worked together to pass the National Alzheimer's Project Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2011. This law created a national strategic plan to address the crisis of Alzheimer's disease and to make ending Alzheimer's a national priority. We have a plan in place to fight this disease, but finding a cure will require us to continue funding research into the disease. While we work towards a cure, we must also support caregivers and raise public awareness of the effects of this disease.

I would also like to express my profound gratitude to all those who are caring for family members who are afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Many caregivers have one or more jobs and other family members to care for and it can often be a thankless job. So mahalo nui loa, thank you very much, for your sacrifices. I call on my colleagues to continue supporting Alzheimer's disease research and education so that we may find a cure and end this devastating disease.

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