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June 08, 2018

King, Health Professionals Outline Strategies to Combat Alzheimer’s Disease

HAMPDEN, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today convened a roundtable discussion of strategies to combat Alzheimer’s Disease at the Bangor Public Library in Bangor. With June marking Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, Senator King, joined Alzheimer’s researchers, advocates, and medical professionals to host a roundtable discussion and answer questions on state and national efforts to end Alzheimer’s. Joining Senator King for the discussion were Alzheimer’s researchers Dr. Catherine Kaczorowski and Dr. Greg Carter of Jackson Laboratory, Dr. Cliff Singer, Chief of Geriatric Neuropsychiatry at Acadia Hospital and Eastern Maine Medical Center, and Laurie Trenholm, Executive Director of the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“In Maine, there are currently 28,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease – a number that is projected to increase to 35,000 in just ten years,” Senator King said. “As more Maine people and families are impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, a clear cut plan is needed to assist patients and families in understanding the specific diagnosis and the options for ongoing treatments, services, and support. Today’s discussion helped further our understanding of what can be done in the health care community and through all levels of government to combat Alzheimer’s and help people cope with the challenges of the disease. It is through a concerted, comprehensive effort that we can work towards ending Alzheimer’s.”

“Maine has the oldest population in the nation and age is the highest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, so we have good reason to be concerned about the growing impact,” said Laurie Trenholm, Executive Director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter. “We’ve seen a decrease in other major diseases when dollars are put toward research and treatments. Research is where the hope is, and we need to continue to make this a national health care priority to change the trajectory of this disease.” 

“At The Jackson Laboratory, we are taking a bold new approach to combating Alzheimer’s disease. Using genomic technologies and specialized mouse models to develop preventative therapies, JAX scientists aim to stop Alzheimer’s before it starts,” said LuAnn Ballesteros, vice president of external and government affairs, The Jackson Laboratory.  “We believe that taking a community approach to defeat this debilitating disease is vital. We are proud to collaborate with Senator King, the Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter, and those impacted by the disease to achieve this important goal together.”

As the state with the oldest median age, seniors are a vital part of Maine’s population. During a visit to Woodlands Memory Care of Farmington in February, Senator King announced his support for the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, which would create a public health infrastructure for the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients. In 2015, he introduced the Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s (EUREKA) Act, bipartisan legislation to create prize-based incentives to encourage more public-private collaboration in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia. A provision based on the EUREKA Act was signed into law as part of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016. Senator King was a cosponsor of the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act, which ensures patients and families have all the necessary information to fight the disease and was implemented by CMS in 2016. Senator King was also a cosponsor of the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act, which passed as part of a government funding bill in 2014, and ensures that Congress is better informed by requiring the NIH to submit a specific estimate of funding needed to reach the National Alzheimer’s Plan’s 2025 goal of preventing and effectively treating the disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, causing loss of memory while damaging cognitive, language and social capabilities. It is the most common cause of dementia, and nearly one in every three seniors who dies each year suffers from Alzheimer’s or another dementia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

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