The Pryor Times

Opinion

June 8, 2014

Letter to the Editor: Alzheimer's in Oklahoma

PRYOR, OK — Dear editor,

There are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease with 60,000 in Oklahoma. My father passed away from the disease three years ago after a long courageous battle. With all the stress and strain of caregiving my Mom had to visit the Doctors office more often. These are but two of the reasons I am proud to work for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only cause of death among the top 10 without a way to prevent, stop or even slow its progression. In addition to the human toll, Alzheimer's is the most expensive condition in nation, costing $214 billion a year.

In 2009 a State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s was published thanks to Republican Rep. David Dank and Democratic Sen. Tom Ivester. Several priority items developed by a dedicated task force of volunteers have been accomplished in the past 5 years. Thanks to Rep. Jon Echols and Sen. Brian Crain we had the opportunity to revisit this plan through SB 1838. It would have allowed us to celebrate those victories while revising what Oklahoma can do to deal with the costs and devastation of this disease.

Unfortunately SB 1838 was not heard in the House in spite of the valiant effort of many Representatives and championed by Echols. We were saddened to learn that SB 1838 had not been heard because “if we hear this task force bill, we’ll have to hear all the other task force bills” even though there was NO cost to the State for the revisiting of this plan through a task force made up of committed volunteers.

We so appreciate Rep. Echols and Sen. Crain and their efforts and the Alzheimer’s Association is committed to addressing ALL the priorities listed in the 2009 Task Force and we hope in the next legislative session with the help of the Legislature we will be able to revise a living breathing Plan such as the one created in 2009. A plan created at no cost to the State, but able to provide a strategy of saving the state and families hundreds of thousands of dollars over the coming years.

For more information on Alzheimer's disease or available resources, visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

Randle Lee

Regional Director

Alzheimer's Association Oklahoma Chapter

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