In April, I participated in the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and 15.5 million Alzheimer’s caregivers.

As an Alzheimer’s Ambassador, I want to thank U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree for meeting with our delegation to discuss the Alzheimer’s crisis. I hope we can count on her support to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research by $200 million.

It is only through adequate funding and implementation of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease that we will meet the goal of effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging. My husband began showing symptoms when only in his 40s. He was finally diagnosed with frontal temporal lobe degeneration and/or early onset Alzheimer’s. I became his primary caregiver, while continuing to work full time and raise children. The disease is emotionally and financially devastating.

In addition to the human toll, Alzheimer’s is the most expensive condition in the nation, costing $214 billion a year! Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 without a way to prevent, stop or even slow its progression.

Maine has an estimated 37,000 people with this disease. This number will dramatically increase. As a caregiver who has gone through the long process of finding adequate nursing care for a loved one, I know that the state of Maine is not ready for this increase. My husband is only 56 and lives full time in a nursing home.

Do not accept dementia as an inevitable part of growing old. Please support increased funding for research and caregiver support. No family should live through the pain and loss caused by dementia at any age.

Deb Johnson

Harrison