As an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer, I am overjoyed that the US House of Representatives passed a historic $425 Million increase for Alzheimer’s and dementia research at the National Institutes of Health and it was signed by the president! This increase will bring the total annual budget for Alzheimer’s and dementia research to $2.3 Billion for FY 19. Thank you to my Representative, Congressman Lewis, for you and your office staff members’ support of this important funding. While acknowledging this previous support, I would like to additionally ask you, Congressman Lewis, to sign on to BOLD as a co-sponsor, which will address Alzheimer’s as the public health crisis that it is! As of 2017, there were 527,000 caregivers providing 600,000,000 hours of unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia in Georgia alone. Nearly one in every three seniors who dies each year has Alzheimer’s or another dementia. In our state Alzheimer’s is 6th leading cause of death. While these statistics are certainly alarming, they are also facts. This is our state’s reality, as well as our nation’s. We must take care of our own with the help of appropriate legislation and infrastructure. We must act in a timely manner. I am hopeful that this action by Congress will lead us to find a treatment or cure for this disease by 2025 with unprecedented bi-partisan effort to address the Alzheimer’s crisis in our country. I am proud to be one of the thousands of advocates that called for this historic increase through reaching out to our Members of Congress with the stories of how Alzheimer’s has impacted our lives. I, personally, am affected by this complex and challenging disease because of its later complications that led to my grandmother’s death this past February. While I have dealt with the diagnosis of my grandmother for several years during my collegiate studies and throughout my early nursing career endeavors, it still makes want to learn more about neuroscience to help solve the unknown of Alzheimer’s disease. It also fostered my desire to learn more about early detection, screening, gerontology and memory associated illnesses. I became certified in Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) with training from my academic health system in the metro Atlanta area. I began learning more protocol and policies to take care of more Alzheimer’s, dementia and delirium patients in the healthcare setting. With this approach, I strengthened my knowledge base to assist my family in my hometown of Savannah, GA at the time to have an improved and individualized plan of care for decision making for my grandmother. We were collectively able to get her around-the-clock care as she transformed through each stage of the disease; my father along with his siblings were able to have respite care, proper resources and reliable staff members to help with the time-consuming demands of her needs. I was sad that I could not return back home to take care of her myself. I was sad when I saw her going through the end of life transitions. It was difficult to accept her final days on this Earth even though I knew it was coming. It was hard, and still is, to grieve. I miss her dearly. It was hard to place that last kiss on her cheek. It was hard to touch her hand that last time. I knew my dear Pinkie Venus was nearing her time to go to heaven. But I accepted it. And I began to feel happy to turn my pain into passion and advocacy so that other caregivers could be given appropriate support for managing care & treatment. I was blessed to be a part of her life, even until the end; and I am blessed to have her as an angel guiding me to be able to uplift others during their own current struggles with Alzheimer’s. Thank you again Rep. Lewis and to your colleagues! Together we will End Alzheimer’s disease. When we do, my prayers will be answered. And this public health crisis could possibly be eliminated with the help of legislation, one more signature, one more action by Congress and by you. Join me in signing on as a co-sponsor of the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act (HR4256). Contact me directly with any questions or requests for more information.
NurseElleRose (Ms. Lauren R. Cummings, RN, BSN) Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter, Advocate/ District Ambassador East Atlanta Resident