Senate Aging Committee Examines Full Spectrum of Alzheimer’s Disease with Witness Maria Shriver

Prior to today’s hearing, Senator Collins met with nearly a dozen Maine Alzheimer’s Association members

Click HERE for to watch an excerpt of Sen. Collins’ opening statement

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, held a hearing yesterday titled, “The Arc of Alzheimer’s: From Preventing Cognitive Decline in Americans to Assuring Quality Care for those Living with the Disease.” Senator Collins is the co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease.

The hearing focused on the full arc of Alzheimer’s disease, from contemporary prevention research focusing on clinical factors and lifestyle modifications that prevent cognitive decline, to assuring quality care for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It also highlighted the human and economic toll of Alzheimer’s disease. The hearing was held in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum, which brought more than 1,000 advocates from across the country to Washington, D.C. Immediately prior to the hearing, Senator Collins met with Maine members of the Alzheimer’s Association. Many of the advocates wore purple, the color symbolizing Alzheimer’s awareness.

“It’s always so inspiring to sit here and look out at the sea of purple. But it’s also a reminder that this terrible disease has affected each and every one of you in some way,” said Chairman Collins. “Over the years, I have met family members who have sacrificed so much for their loved ones living with the disease. I have met Americans living with Alzheimer’s with courage and determination; many of you are here today, and we welcome you.”

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition that takes a tremendous personal and financial toll on Americans. It costs the United States an estimated $259 billion a year, including $175 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. This year marks the first time that total direct payments related to the care of individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias will reach more than a quarter of a trillion dollars. These costs will skyrocket as the baby boom generation ages.

There is no known prevention or treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. However, the hearing shed light on lifestyle factors have been shown to reduce cognitive decline, which often precedes Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to advancing medical research and raising public awareness about Alzheimer’s, it is imperative that we develop a workforce equipped to care for those living with dementia today.

Witnesses for the hearing included:

Panel I

  • Maria Shriver, Mother, Journalist and Founder of The Women's Alzheimer's Movement (Los Angeles, CA)

Panel II

  • Kristine Yaffe, MD, Chair and Vice Chair, Scola Endowed; Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
  • Christopher Callahan, MD, MACP, Director, Indiana University Center for Aging Research and Investigator, Regenstrief Institute, Inc. (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Phyllis Gallagher, Family Caregiver (Frackville, PA)

Click HERE to read the witnesses’ testimony.