Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month Brings Focus to 4th Leading Cause of Death in CA
This June thousands of Californians who live with Alzheimer’s disease and their family, friends, caretakers and the healthcare community observed Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. Currently, more than 650,000 people in California are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and over 1.6 million family and friends are providing care. More than $3.7 billion in Medicaid dollars were spent statewide last year caring for people with Alzheimer’s which is the fourth leading cause of death in California.
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The destructive disease impacts more than 6 million Americans and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. African Americans are twice as likely and Latinx people are 1.5 times as likely to develop the disease.
Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and while current treatments cannot stop the disease from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms, and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
Understandably, Alzheimer’s research is extremely complex and expensive. Over the past 20 years, there were 146 unsuccessful attempts to develop medicines to treat and potentially prevent Alzheimer’s. In that same timeframe, only four new medicines were approved to treat the symptoms of the disease. Despite these challenges, biopharmaceutical researchers are committed to finding new therapies, with 92 medicines for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other dementias currently in clinical development and about 75 percent have the potential to change the course of the disease.
There are also mountains of research, resources and support to help Alzheimer’s patients, including:
- Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association that are leading efforts in Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
- UC Davis Health which ranked in the top 20 in research funding with nearly $80 million in national grants in 2017 including $23 million for Alzheimer’s disease research.
- The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, founded by Maria Shriver, is dedicated to raising awareness about women’s increased risk for Alzheimer’s and to educating the public – women and men – about lifestyle changes they can make to protect their brain health.
- Governor Newsom, in collaboration with Shriver and state legislators, invested $8 million in state budget funding for Alzheimer’s disease research and infrastructure.
“This state budget funding will make California the first state to make understanding our brains a priority.” -Maria Shriver, Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force
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For more information about California’s biotechnology and life science industry, contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or [email protected].