Statement on Broadcaster Pat Robertson's Comments About Alzheimer's Disease
By American Health Assistance President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller
The recent comments of the Rev. Pat Robertson on the 700 Club television program, and the ensuing media coverage of his statement that the spouse of a person with advanced Alzheimer's disease could consider divorce, have stirred a firestorm of passions and comments.
The range of views expressed online and in the news media reflects the cruel conundrum of Alzheimer's disease. As a society, we want to help and protect the dignity and the emotional and familial connections of patients devastated by this condition. At the same time, we recognize the enormous burdens imposed on the spouses and caretakers of Alzheimer's disease patients.
The dialogue has drawn much-needed attention to this tragic disease that harms so many millions of lives here in the U.S. and around the world. Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disorder that over time irreversibly destroys memory and other brain function. The risk of living with the disease increases with age. At age 65, one's lifetime risk for getting Alzheimer's disease ranges from one in five (for women) to one in ten (for men).
What's worse, our society may be approaching a crisis of unmet need with the “silver tsunami” of aging Baby Boomers. In 2012, the Boomers will be turning 65 at the rate of one every eight seconds.
Devastating for patients, Alzheimer's disease is also heartbreaking for family members. They not only witness the progressive destruction of a loved one's mind, they often experience enormous emotional, physical, and financial stress as family caregivers. Approximately 70% of Alzheimer's disease patients in the U.S. receive their care at home.
This is an opportunity for many in our society-individuals, churches and volunteer organizations, the news media, and government-to advance a dialogue that would increase public awareness of the scope of this growing pandemic, and build our resolve to stop this disease.
We need more private and federally funded research into ways to prevent, detect, or treat Alzheimer's disease. We also need better care and support for those living with the disease, as well as their loved ones and caretakers. Now is the time to commit to reaching these goals.
The American Health Assistance Foundation welcomes questions and comments from others that will contribute to this ongoing dialogue. Share your views with us by visiting AHAF's Alzheimer's Disease Research Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/alzheimersresearch.
Together, we must bring an end to the human suffering, as well as the societal and ethical dilemmas, posed by this haunting disease.
About the American Health Assistance Foundation
The American Health Assistance Foundation (www.ahaf.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for age-related degenerative diseases by funding research worldwide under its three program areas: Alzheimer's Disease Research, Macular Degeneration Research, and National Glaucoma Research. AHAF also provides public information about these diseases.
Stay connected to ground-breaking research news by signing up for AHAF eAlerts at www.ahaf.org/news. To follow the American Health Assistance Foundation on Twitter and Facebook, visit www.ahaf.org/connect.