American Journal of Law & Medicine

New federal law calls for government, public attention to Alzheimer's crisis - The National Alzheimer's Project Act.

New Federal Law Calls for Government, Public Attention to Alzheimer's Crisis--The National Alzheimer's Project Act--The National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA) strives to combat Alzheimer's disease by accelerating development of Alzheimer's treatments and cures, bettering methods for early diagnosis, and broadening research diversity through federally coordinated cost-efficiency planning. (1)

Alzheimer's disease is a brain disease that is both irreversible and progressive, which makes it increasingly difficult for patients to live independently once they lose cognitive function. (2) Much about Alzheimer's disease, including the disease's causes, remains a mystery, but researchers have found that damage, in the form of tangles or plaque in the brain, starts to appear as early as ten to twenty years before symptoms become evident. (3) Scientists believe that genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors are all likely contributors to the disease. (4)

Alzheimer's disease affected more than five million Americans in 2010, and researchers estimate that it could affect sixteen million Americans by 2050. (5) In addition to creating an enormous hardship on the patient and his or her caregiver, the disease also places a severe financial burden on the country. (6) In 2009, care for individuals affected by Alzheimer's cost Medicare and Medicaid an estimated $170 billion. (7) Researchers estimate that caring for individuals affected by Alzheimer's may cost the United States $20 trillion over the next forty years. …

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