Legislation to Assist Americans with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Introduced by Bipartisan Group of Senators

Washington, D.C.—In an effort to help the approximately 200,000 Americans suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act today.  A companion bill was also introduced by Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY) in the House of Representatives.  The bipartisan legislation would ensure the availability of programs and services for those with Alzheimer’s by allowing patients younger than age 60 to access them.

 

“Whether someone is older than 60 or younger than 60 when he or she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the progression of this terrible disease is the same,” said Senator Collins, a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease.  “Since Alzheimer’s is not restricted by age, neither should the programs designed to assist these Americans and their families.  Our legislation would ensure access to these critical services to patients younger than 60 so that all Americans with Alzheimer’s have access to the care, support, and resources they need.”

 

“I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill to help ensure our communities are able to meet the needs of anyone living with Alzheimer’s, no matter their age,” said Senator Casey, Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “I will also keep fighting to secure robust funding for research that will improve care and lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.”    

 

“It’s essential that all Alzheimer’s patients—including those with early onset of the disease—have access to the resources and protections provided by the Older Americans Act,” said Senator Capito.  “I’m proud to join this bipartisan group to ensure this important law is expanded to include those under 60 years of age living with this devastating disease.”

 

“I have seen firsthand how Alzheimer’s disease can forever change a person’s quality of life, and the tremendous emotional toll it takes on loved ones. This is a disease that can take hold regardless of someone’s age, and we need to make sure that our law reflects that reality. By updating the Older Americans Act, this bipartisan legislation will ensure that every American suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementia diseases has the opportunity to receive the same level of quality care,” said Senator Jones.

 

“Too often, people living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s are shut out from vital services and programs simply because of their age,” said U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice. “These individuals begin to show symptoms as early as their 30s, 40s and 50s, when they have young children, new homes and growing careers. Virtually overnight, their families are faced with unimageable hardship, and right now, they aren’t eligible for the critical support offered under the Older Americans Act. This bill will fix that. It’ll ensure that people living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s and their caregivers have access to the resources they need and deserve, regardless of their age.”

 

The majority of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, and access to available programs and services for this disease often reflect that threshold.  Due to their age, younger-onset patients can face additional barriers to access the services they need to cope with their disease.

 

The Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Parity Act would amend the Older Americans Act to ensure that certain programs that already serve individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias can continue their program supports for those who have not attained 60 years of age.  In particular, this legislation would allow the National Family Caregiver Support Program and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program to serve this unique population.  This bill addresses a key recommendation by the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which called for additional services to be provided to younger adults with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.

 

The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement support this legislation:

 

“With more than 5 million currently living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., including upwards of 28,000 in Maine the Alzheimer’s Association and its advocacy arm, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM), thank Senators Collins, Casey, Capito, and Jones for leading this important effort to ensure all Americans living with disease have access to the same high-quality care and support services, regardless of age,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. “All members of Congress should join this bipartisan effort by supporting the passage of the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act to reduce disparities in caring for, treating and supporting those aged 60 and younger who are living with Alzheimer’s.”