The United States Senate Special Committee on Aging met on June 19, 2018, to discuss the advancements in managing and preventing Alzheimer’s disease as well as raising awareness about this condition. The main participants of this hearing included public officials from state and federal levels of government agencies and family members of people affected by the discussed disease. One of the notable guests was Marcia Gay Harden, an actress whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (“Marcia Gay Harden testifies,” 2018). The committee met to discuss the current state of research pertaining to the condition and consider how Alzheimer’s disease affected Americans and the government in terms of healthcare and economics.
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Participants, Agenda, Logistics
The hearing included multiple statements from such key participants as U.S. Senators Susan M. Collins, Bob Casey, Jr., Catherine Cortez Masto, Doug Jones, Deb Fischer, and Elizabeth Warren. Moreover, family caregivers Marcia Gay Harden and Cheryl Woods-Flowers presented the stories of their loved ones. Other participants included Lisa McGuire, the representative of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Health Aging Program and Gareth Howell, a researcher from the Jackson laboratory who worked with mice to find correlations between behaviors, genetics, and the disease. The participants took their turns in presenting their opinions and discussing the possible future outcomes of Alzheimer’s research and awareness campaigns.
The Special Committee on Aging is a part of the U.S. Senate. It is interested in researching the problems and opportunities that concern older people. The committee’s members meet to discuss older people’s health, income sources, employment, housing, and care (Special Committee on Aging, n.d.). There are 19 Members in the committee, each of whom is appointed in the Senate. Also, the participants of hearings that the committee holds often include special guests that present their unique experiences linked to the topic in focus.
In the present hearing, the Special Committee on Aging talked about Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on the American population. As Senator Collins noted, this disease became the sixth cause of death for older Americans (“Marcia Gay Harden testifies,” 2018). She stated that around 5.7 million older Americans were living with the condition, which had a significant economic toll on the country (“Marcia Gay Harden testifies,” 2018).
The main focus of the gathering was the discussion about the contemporary state of research, the need to increase funding for studies and older people’s high-quality care. Moreover, the members talked about the ways to educate younger individuals about the condition and its prevention possibilities. The need to eliminate stigma and introduce new methods of early diagnosing were mentioned as well.
Multiple stakeholders shared their knowledge about and experience with Alzheimer’s disease. Senators Collins and Casey presented The Bold Act, a proposition that would further increase funding for Alzheimer’s research and treatment and incorporate awareness programs for older and younger people in order to improve early diagnosis. The senators stated that public health was a priority that needed to be addressed on the federal level. Next, Harden testified about her mother and argued that financial support, as well as coaching for family members, could significantly improve the ways in which a family could care for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.
Next, McGuire talked about the programs that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has implemented to improve the state of early diagnosing. Howell also presented some scientific findings and noted that the experiments with mice showed a connection between physical activity and the reduction of memory loss. Although this link was not supported in all trials completely, its major success could open up new opportunities for the condition’s prevention. Finally, Woods-Flowers spoke about the story of her father and his battle with Alzheimer’s, arguing about the essential role of early detection.
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The members of the hearing briefly discussed the opportunities that should be considered in the nearest future. The senators were asked about rural communities and their access to diagnosis and treatment tools. Collins highlighted the need to increase federal funding and local initiatives to institute programs concerning early screenings. McGuire and Howell also stated that multiple tests could potentially focus not on memory loss but on symptoms and changes that precede such problems.
Moreover, Harden asked the committee about creating additional resources for caregivers and noted that her family did not know what to do when her mother was diagnosed. The participants spoke about the link between exercise, diet change, and Alzheimer’s progression, where Howell noted that children could understand the need to change their lifestyle to improve health.
The meeting concluded with the unanimous agreement that Alzheimer’s research should focus on early diagnosis and search for a cure. The members highlighted the need to help rural communities with limited access to healthcare. Moreover, they stated that stigma and people’s lack of knowledge about the first symptoms greatly affected their health-related decisions. The hearing’s participants also concluded that family caregivers deserved to receive additional help in the form of medical assistance and moral support. Exercise and diet change, as well as education and community support, were highlighted as possible ways of dealing with the presented issue. Overall, the members outlined a path for the act that was promoted by the senators and reviewed its main concerns.
Marcia Gay Harden testifies senate hearing Alzheimer’s disease, 2018. (2018). Web.
Special Committee on Aging. (n.d.). Rules. Web.