Congress took decisive action passing the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act (S. 2076). Endorsed by the Alzheimer's Association, the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act will create an Alzheimer's public health infrastructure across the country to implement effective Alzheimer's interventions including increasing early detection and diagnosis, reducing risk and preventing avoidable hospitalizations.
The BOLD Act was introduced in November of 2017 and quickly gained bi-partisan support as Alzheimer's advocates across the country shared their stories with legislators. I am one of those advocates. My connection to Alzheimer's sprouts from the feelings acquired while dealing with the diagnosis and prognosis of my dear grandmother while attending college and living in Atlanta. This personal introduction to Alzheimer's was intensified with her succumbing to late stage effects this year in February; an aunt who passed the previous year, 2017, due to the late stages of the disease; and a great aunt who is in a nursing & rehab facility dealing with memory and functional decline. All of them Sisters. All of them women in my life. This thinking led me to better understand the pre-existing genetic connection, increased risk for African-Americans for Alzheimer's, and a necessary health discussion with my family members. I became more interested in taking care of the geriatric population and different types of dementia patients during my shifts at Grady and travel nursing in Savannah and Augusta, GA. I saw it was a statewide crisis which prompted me to be readily available to discuss statistics and to speak honestly with patients and families about protocol, policies and resources for care. My focus on these conversations removed the sadness of grieving, made things real and pushed me to fervently pursue my career dreams through neuroscience education and advocacy as a nurse.
I urged Representative John Lewis to support the effort to address Alzheimer's and other dementias as a public health issue. The BOLD Act passed the Senate thirteen months later on December 12th and was agreed on in the House December 19th. It is expected to be signed into law in the next few days.
Alzheimer's is the most expensive disease in the U.S. and impacts over 5.7 million Americans that are diagnosed with it, not to mention their multitude of care partners. Utilizing the existing public health infrastructure to increase awareness of the disease, creating centers for excellence around the country and collecting data will improve early and accurate diagnosis. This step will lead to reduced costs of care and improved quality of life for those diagnosed with the disease.
Join me in thanking Congress, especially Rep. John Lewis for supporting this legislation and taking BOLD action to address Alzheimer's and other dementias in our country.
Ms. Lauren R. Cummings, RN, BSN
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