ROANOKE, Va. – It was a victory for the 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. On Dec. 31, the Building our Largest Dementia, or BOLD, Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act was signed into law to combat Alzheimer's disease and preserve brain health.
"We're very excited because that shows us that Congress is willing to help us make that impact that's needed," said Annette Clark, family services director for the Alzheimer's Association of Central and Western Virginia.
The numbers are staggering. Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. The hope shared by many, including the staff of Harmony at Roanoke Memory Care, is that the BOLD Infrastructure of Alzheimer's Act will help shrink those numbers.
"It's going to allow for additional research and we'll get more information about appropriate programming that helps improve our residents' quality of life," said Casey Halstead, life enrichment director for Harmony at Roanoke Memory Care.
The legislation creates a public health infrastructure. Headed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it authorizes $20 million annually over the next five years to establish:
- Public health centers of excellence devoted to Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
- Cooperative agreements with the CDC that will be awarded to state health departments.
- Research grants to improve the understanding of Alzheimer's disease, cognitive decline, caregiving and health disparities at the state and national levels.
"We're all a huge community -- those that have loved ones with Alzheimer's, those that care for those that have Alzheimer's, those that do research for Alzheimer's. We're all a huge community and we've got to work together," said Jenny Morris, director of sales and marketing for Harmony at Roanoke Memory Care.
The legislation received bipartisan support, with lawmakers citing the effects of the devastating disease, including the cost, which hit $277 billion nationwide. The BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act was introduced by four senators, including Virginia's Tim Kaine and Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia.