Redoubling efforts to mitigate the symptoms of, and someday cure Alzheimer’s Disease
The following are remarks by Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester) for the Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday, November 5th in Bradley Beach:
Thank you for your amazing work.
And thanks to each of you for not only raising critically-needed funds for Alzheimer’s disease research, but for bringing renewed visibility—especially as we emerge from the pandemic—and the redoubling of efforts to mitigate the symptoms of, and someday cure, this catastrophic disease.
Today, more than 6.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s—with millions more providing care, oftentimes unpaid.
Almost two thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
The new generation of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are especially at risk as new research shows a link between Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered during military service and the development of Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Twenty-three years ago—in 1999—I along with Senator Ed Markey created the bipartisan Congressional Alzheimer’s Caucus, which I co-chair to this day.
After years of legislative struggle and with an all-important push from the Alzheimer’s Association, the big breakthrough came in 2011, when Congress passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA)—a law I coauthored.
NAPA created a new, frequently updated and expanded national strategy with the goal of finding a cure, or a disease-modifying therapy by 2025. NAPA also created an advisory committee for a whole-of-government response to the crisis.
The impact has been profound. Alzheimer’s research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was $600 million in 2015. Now in Fiscal Year 2023 federal research for Alzheimer’s will likely be $3.48 billion—an almost 600% increase!
In the next few weeks, we hope to reauthorize NAPA for another ten years—to 2035.
I am the prime sponsor of H.R. 7773—the Alzheimer’s Accountability and Investment Act—to require the National Institutes of Health to annually submit, beginning in FY2024, an estimate of its budget and personnel needs for carrying out initiatives pursuant to the National Alzheimer's Project.
In years past, one of my bills that passed the House and eventually became law was—Kevin and Avonte’s Law—to prevent life-threatening wandering.
As many of you know, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden runs an excellent program—Project Lifesaver—to track, find and rescue a wandering Alzheimer’s patient or person with autism wearing a tracking bracelet, usually within 30 minutes.
None of these laws or community-driven programs would be possible without the vision, support and advocacy of the Alzheimer’s Association and you.
You bring renewed hope, resolve, compassion and empathy for patients, family, and friends.”