Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and more than 15 million Alzheimer’s caregivers. Deaths from this disease have nearly doubled in the last 14 years.

I am grateful that Congress has approved a $400 million increase in Alzheimer’s research funding for fiscal 2017, bringing federal Institutes of Health funding to $1.39 billion.

This is excellent progress toward the $2 billion annual figure needed to sustain a successful outcome in Alzheimer’s research. To continue toward this goal, I encourage Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King, 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree and 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin to support $414 million in funding for fiscal 2018.

Until progress is made, loved ones are going to continue to be lost to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. I watched my mother lose all of her abilities to function in a short number of years and then pass away from this disease. Two more relatives have just died as a result of the cruelty of Alzheimer’s, as well as a dear friend having to go into a nursing home. This is not normal aging!

Please join me as an Alzheimer’s advocate by contacting the Maine Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org/maine to learn how to help our state and federal legislators understand what is at stake for our future from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Cathy Walters

Hollis Center