In a letter to the editor, Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33) talks about the “growing epidemic” seniors are facing in the form of Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the greatest challenges facing our senior citizens in New Jersey and our nation, is the growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease. It is an insidious disease that wipes away a victims memories and self-identity, before it robs them of their life.
It’s a disease that has no known treatment, at least not yet! The collateral effects of Alzheimer’s run the gamut, from the afflicted to their families, friends and caregivers. Alzheimer’s touches the lives of everyone around it.
The sad truth in New Jersey is that we are not doing enough to raise awareness and understanding about Alzheimer’s disease. We can and we must do better.
To that end, with the collaboration of stakeholders and advocates, I authored and introduced a 3-bill Alzheimer’s care and awareness package in the Assembly.
This Alzheimer’s package will ensure that, moving forward, there is a more accurate count of those whose lives are lost due to this disease and its effects (A-4100).
It will ensure that hospital staff are aware of a patient who is struggling with the disease (A-4188). And it will ensure that health aides are better equipped to deal and care for an Alzheimer’s victim – which benefits both the patient and the aide (A-4331).
This Alzheimer’s package is moving through the Legislature. The Senate Health Committee unanimously released the bills, and the full Senate passed the package this week unanimously. This is due to the leadership of former Governor Richard Codey, who introduced this package in the Senate.
There are few greater mental health advocates in the state today than him, and he is on the forefront of leading the War on Alzheimer’s in New Jersey.
It is indeed an honor to partner with him in fighting this disease that affects so many in our state and I look forward to moving this package through the Assembly and onto the Governor’s desk.
Filmmaker Scott Kirchenbaum, who made a movie based on Alzheimer’s, said, “though those with Alzheimer’s might forget us, we as a society must remember them.”
No doubt we face many challenges in our state today, and lawmakers have many responsibilities. But our primary role must be as guardians and protectors of those most vulnerable and of those who have lost their voice.
Victims of Alzheimer’s deserve to be heard, and they deserve to be a priority. Through engaging our communities, raising awareness and understanding, increasing funding at the state and national levels, and fostering research, we can begin a serious dialogue on Alzheimer’s disease and how we can address it.
This Alzheimer’s care and awareness package is composed of common-sense measures will be a first step in the right direction of advocating for Alzheimer’s victims and stemming the tide of this growing epidemic.
With increased dialogue and partnership, there is hope. I will continue working towards understanding and awareness of this disease, so that New Jersey will become a leader in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Carmelo G. Garcia
Assemblyman, 33rd District
Office Phone: (201) 714-4960