November 7, 2013
Statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disease that destroys memory and the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living, can be devastating to the people who have the condition and also to their loved ones. At this point, it is an irreversible and ultimately fatal condition that affects millions of Americans. I believe, as President Obama believes, that we can do better.
Last year, I announced the first ever National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which is a roadmap with specific steps to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s and related dementia by 2025, and to improve the care and support available to Americans impacted by the disease.
In the year and a half since the release of the plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made great strides in the fight to treat and eventually cure Alzheimer’s disease.
We have identified 11 new Alzheimer’s disease risk genes, thanks to international research collaborations supported by the National Institutes of Health. We have funded innovative research to translate basic studies into therapies, investing an additional $45 million in drug development studies and clinical trials for possible treatments to stop the progression of the disease.
We have supported dementia training for more than 25,000 health care providers, including on topics from dementia diagnosis to effective behavior management for people with dementia and their caregivers. We have linked the people providing supportive services to those in the research community for mutual benefit. Importantly, we launched the website, www.alzheimers.gov, to increase awareness and help ensure people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers have access to critical resources.
These are just a few of the actions that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its federal partners have undertaken to overcome this devastating disease. While this work represents important progress, we still have a long way to go to achieve our goals. We cannot do this work alone.
We need even greater public engagement to help recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s, to ensure that people receive a timely diagnosis, and to help support the families and caregivers of those struggling with the disease. Please join me during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and beyond, to redouble our efforts to create a brighter, healthier future. Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and help that is available at http://alzheimers.gov/index.html.