Working together for Alzheimer’s awareness, caregiver support

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Editor:

I congratulate Darlene Donloe for her wonderful “Making a Difference” article (Aug. 19) about an important community service organization in our area, the Actively Caring Through Sharing (ACTS) support group for Alzheimer’s caregivers.

As the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States Congress, I have been deeply concerned about this debilitating and deadly disease and its impact upon the families and caregivers of those who suffer from it, and I have worked tirelessly to promote Alzheimer’s awareness, research and caregiver support.

I began circulating letters in 2015 to urge the House Appropriations Committee to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health, and I have been joined each year by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, the Republican co-chair of the Task Force, and a bipartisan group that has grown to more than 100 members of Congress.

I am proud to report that Alzheimer’s research funding has increased significantly every year since I began this advocacy and now amounts to more than $3 billion in fiscal year 2021 — a five-fold increase since 2015. This unprecedented level of funding, combined with philanthropic support, has led to major scientific advancements, including tools for early diagnosis.

I also introduced the Alzheimer’s Research Semipostal Stamp Act (H.R. 3092) in 2015 and worked with Rep. Smith and Sen. Ed Markey to pressure the U.S. Postal Service to issue an Alzheimer’s semipostal fundraising stamp. In response to our efforts, the stamp was issued in 2017, and has already raised more than $1 million for Alzheimer’s research, while allowing ACTS members and other advocates to promote awareness just by mailing letters.

Congress still needs to do more to support caregivers. That is why I introduced the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act (H.R. 1474), which expands training and support services for families and caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.

My bill has the support of more than 145 congressional cosponsors representing both political parties. My bill is awaiting consideration in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and I am determined to have it passed this year and signed into law by the president.

Groups like ACTS are critical to caregiver support efforts. As a small nonprofit organization, ACTS provides free educational resources and brings caregivers together to share their stories.

In 2016, I worked with ACTS to organize a community town hall meeting on Alzheimer’s at the Inglewood library and secured Dr. Keith L. Black, one of our country’s leading medical experts, to keynote the event. Dr. Black is the chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center here in Los Angeles. He shared his perspective on the progress of Alzheimer’s research and the disease’s outsized impact upon people of color.

The most important work ACTS does is to bring caregivers together and give support and encouragement to people who are overburdened with the tremendous responsibilities of caring for a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. I am proud to work with ACTS to promote Alzheimer’s awareness and give caregivers the support they so desperately need.

If readers want to support ACTS or attend one of their monthly meetings, they should call (323) 296-2975 or email them at acts@actscsg.org.

Rep. Maxine Waters

Los Angeles

As a small nonprofit organization, ACTS provides free educational resources and brings caregivers together to share their stories.

Waters represents California’s 43rd Congressional District in Congress, which includes much of South Los Angeles.

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