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Lawmakers’ Personal Stories Featured in Alzheimer’s Forum

Sens. Capito, Wicker and Blunt spoke with an advocacy meeting on Tuesday

(Photo courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association)
(Photo courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association)

West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito lost both her parents to Alzheimer’s disease within the last year and a half. On Tuesday, the senator shared her personal story with the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum.  

Her father died in January 2015 at 91, while her mother passed away in September 2014  at 88. “It manifested really differently, my mother was more gradual, my father had a super decline,” she said. “There’s not a book out there that tells you that ‘when this happens, do this.’”  

Capito is committed, she told HOH, “to try and find a cure, certainly, but a way to help caregivers and those afflicted to have the best treatments available.”  

Capito said it’s hard to find a family that has not been touched by Alzheimer’s. “It’s expensive, it’s emotionally draining for family members and financially draining,” she said. “There’s a lot of heartache attached to it because the person experiencing it realizes something is happening and they’re afraid.” She said she spoke with Alzheimer’s Association advocates in her office on Wednesday.  

At the forum, she said, “I got a little emotional, but that’s okay.”  

Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined his Senate colleague at the forum. His mother also suffered from dementia.  

Wicker spoke on his legislation known as “EUREKA”. With 37 bipartisan cosponsors, the bill would create prize competitions for breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research. Awards would go to successes that move closer to a cure.  

“This is a disease that will break our federal budget if we don’t get a hold of it,” Wicker said on Tuesday, stressing that it’s the most expensive disease in America. By 2050, the senator said, costs could be more than $1 trillion.  

Another senator, Roy Blunt, R-Mo., spoke at the forum’s Tuesday night’s dinner. He said he’s met with constituents for years who are experiencing Alzheimer’s to hear their stories.  

Blunt, like Wicker, also stressed the importance of finding a cure because of the expense on taxpayers. Wicker added that in 2050, the U.S. would spend twice as much as it does on the military to treat individuals with the disease.  

Contact Gangitano at alexgangitano@cqrollcall.com and follow her on Twitter @AlexGangitano.

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