It is time we change our thinking on Alzheimer’s disease. Too often, Alzheimer’s is treated as an aging issue, ignoring the public health consequences of a disease someone in the United States develops every 66 seconds. And with two-thirds of its annual costs being borne by Medicare and Medicaid, it is one that demands more attention from our government.

In 2016 in Georgia, more than 130,000 people over age 65 had Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to increase by more than 46 percent by 2025.

Those numbers are vastly underrepresented because they do not reflect the many people living with the disease but without a diagnosis or the growing population of younger adults experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Congress has a chance to take decisive action, passing the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 2076/H.R. 4256). Endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association, the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act would create an Alzheimer’s public health infrastructure across the country to implement effective interventions, including increasing early detection and diagnosis, reducing risk, and preventing avoidable hospitalizations.

Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the United States and is expected to cost the country more than $277 billion in 2018, which is why we need the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act. If we are going to end Alzheimer’s disease, then we must start treating it like the public health threat it is.

Deborah Levin, Atlanta

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