One St. Louis caregiver is in Washington today to speak to the Senate Special Committee on Aging about the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Kim Stemley, whose mother suffers from the disease, was asked by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to speak on behalf of caregivers. The committee, led by McCaskill and Chairwoman Susan Collins of Maine, will focus on the financial, economic, and emotional challenges facing those with the disease and the individuals and families who care for them.
“I’m going before Capitol Hill to ask for the increase funding and also to ask that the HOPE Act would be passed in this particular Congress,” said Stemley. “We all share the same pain, we all also share the same hope in that there is an end to this disease and it can happen in our lifetime.”
The ‘Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act’ is legislation designed to improve diagnosis of the disease and increase access to information on care and support for newly diagnosed individuals and their families. It would also require that individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia be documented on medical records.
“This would have made a big difference in my life, but at the time you get that diagnosis in the doctor’s office you really don’t know what to do, and you walk out the door and you have no idea what’s going to happen next,” said Stemley. “It was completely foreign to us and foreign to the life that we knew, and our world at that point was turned upside down in many ways.”
Stemley wants to find a cure and has shared stories with caregivers across the country.
“The goal is to cure Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, and if not cure it, to have a pathway to properly treat it and reduce the signs of it,” said Stemley.
Stemley is also the Chief Financial Officer at Rx Outreach, a nonprofit mail order pharmacy that aims to make prescription drugs safer and more affordable for lower-income families.
“We exist to help people who can’t afford their medication, but their life is saying that they need them, so we make them affordable for people,” said Stemley.
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in Missouri and the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s association. The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated at $226 billion in 2015. By 2050, those costs are estimated to reach as much as $1.1 trillion. Nearly one in every three seniors who dies each year has Alzheimer’s or another dementia and almost two thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women.