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Federal Government Spends $100 Million to Combat Alzheimer’s 

New law takes a public health approach to early detection, treatment and more

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En español | The federal government will invest $100 million to support a public health approach to the prevention, treatment and care of Alzheimer’s and related dementias, under a new law the president signed this week.

The Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act unanimously passed the U.S. Senate and was approved by a near-unanimous vote in the House of Representatives. The law was authored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

The BOLD Act authorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to spend $20 million a year for five years. The law:

  • Establishes centers of excellence across the country dedicated to promoting the best ways to effectively deal with Alzheimer’s and to help caregivers better understand and address dementias. The centers will also help educate the public on Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline and overall brain health.
  • Provides for the CDC to work with state health departments to help them promote brain health, reduce the risk of cognitive decline and improve the care for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
  • Requires improved analysis and timely reporting of data on Alzheimer’s cognitive decline, caregiving and health disparities at the state and national level.

“This legislation embeds prevention and promoting brain health as opposed to only fighting the disease once you get it,” says Sarah Lock, AARP senior vice president of policy and brain health  and the executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health. “We look forward to working with federal and state health programs to make this a reality.”

AARP estimates that more than 6 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Based on current projections, that number will swell to more than 16 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s costs the United States more than $277 billion per year, including $186 billion spent by Medicare and Medicaid.

AARP has been addressing Alzheimer’s on both the prevention and research front. The Global Council on Brain Health, as well as AARP’s Staying Sharp program, emphasize promoting brain health and providing tools for people who have cognitive impairment. And last year, AARP invested $60 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) for research and the development of breakthrough treatments for dementia.