I just faced my 60th birthday in a way I never thought I would – widowed by younger onset Alzheimer’s. As one of the 69,000 Alzheimer’s caregivers in Maine, I know the impact the disease has on families and our state. This year MaineCare will spend $197 million caring for people with Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association, Maine.

This is National Public Health Week. Because of the enormous emotional and actual cost of the five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and the nearly 14 million who may develop the disease by 2050, Congress is on the verge of recognizing it as the public health crisis it is.

We may not have a cure –yet! – but there are still things we as citizens can impact.

First, please join me in asking Rep. Chellie Pingree and Rep. Bruce Poliquin to fight for the millions of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s by passing the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 2076/H.R. 4256). The Act would create an Alzheimer’s public health infrastructure across the country to support families and train doctors in early detection and diagnosis, reducing risk and preventing avoidable hospitalizations. This will help patients, families and the budget.

Secondly, leaders in Maine can help alleviate this burden by implementing and updating the State Plan for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias in Maine. Ask policymakers to support the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to develop and implement efforts to educate the public about risk reduction. Please join me in calling on Gov. Paul LePage and our state officials to continue to implement the state plan.

To end Alzheimer’s disease we must tackle it as the national health threat it is. I don’t want any other couple, any other spouse, or any other family, to have to face what we faced.

Elisabeth Paine


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