Categorized | Elections, News

Hannemann seeks more funding for Alzheimer’s


Democratic Congressional candidate Mufi Hannemann called for dramatic increases in federal support for Alzheimer’s disease research, pledging to make it a central theme of his office if elected.

Hannemann, who is running for a seat in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, made the statement in remarks to residents at 15 Craigside and other family caregivers in the community.

He cited a number of alarming statistics regarding the soaring increase in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias among Hawaii and the nation’s aging population.

Quoting statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, Hannemann said, “One in eight adults will develop Alzheimer’s. One in two aged 85 years or older will develop Alzheimer’s. It has become the sixth leading cause of death in the nation and the fifth among those 65 or older, and it’s a disease that can’t be prevented, cured, or slowed.”

“According to the Hawaii State Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, 31,000 people in Hawaii who are 65 years or older have Alzheimer’s,” he said.

Despite the alarming rise in this disease, federal support has not kept pace.

He said, “In America, cancer research receives $6 billion in federal funding, heart research receives $4 billion, and HIV/AIDS receives $3 billion. By comparison, Alzheimer’s research is receiving only $480 million. That’s why this cause needs an advocate in Congress who can speak of the critical importance of expanded federal involvement in the search for causes and cures.”

Hannemann noted the burden of caring for people with Alzheimer’s is falling disproportionately on spouses, usually women, and is accompanied by increased stress, financial concerns, and uncertainty for those caregivers.

He also noted an estimated 800,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s live alone and as many as 50 percent do not have identifiable caregivers.

Said Hannemann, “We need to invest in home and community-based care. According to an AARP survey, half of Hawaii residents believe they’re likely to provide care to spouses or family members sometime in the near future. As many as 94 percent of seniors want services that allow them to stay at home for long-term care. Yet, 62 percent are not confident they can afford that care. With the median price of nursing home care at $122,000 a year in Hawaii, it’s clear that long-term care is beyond the means of our middle class.”

In addition to expressing his general support for President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, which he believes needs refinement, and the President’s National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, Hannemann said that more federal funding will be required for Alzheimer’s research and called for new ideas to ease the burden on caregivers and the healthcare profession.

He touted the importance of evidence-based caregiver training programs. He further emphasized the need for an advocate in Congress for support of the Older Americans Act, which provides states with funding for programs like Meals on Wheels and other services designed to help people stay in their own homes.

With 26 million Americans living with diabetes, and approximately 113,000 in Hawaii, Hannemann stated that diabetes is another major disease needing a strong advocate. Hawaii’s Asian and Hawaiian populations experience disproportionately high rates of diabetes, he said, and greater emphases on research and cures would help reduce the disease’s impact on the nation’s health care costs.

Hannemann has been a staunch advocate for the American Diabetes Association for many years, and he commended and vowed to support the latest legislation introduced by the U.S. Senate, proposing to create a commission made up of private and public sector members who will evaluate the government’s current approaches to diabetes care, deliver recommendations of improvement, integration, and new approaches to handling what many providers have deemed an epidemic.

He would also support the companion measure introduced last September in the US House of Representatives.

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