July 15, 2011

The July 4 news story “To revive his 2012 bid, Gingrich is finding his niches” highlighted a fundamental misunderstanding in American politics and culture today.

There’s nothing niche about Alzheimer’s, a cruel disease that afflicts one in three American families and one in eight Americans over age 65.

The rapid growth of Alzheimer’s disease poses a nightmarish health and fiscal threat to the United States, and yet too few politicians and voters are taking the crisis seriously.

As America’s population ages, the annual cost to taxpayers of caring for Alzheimer’s patients will explode from $183 billion today to an estimated $600 billion by 2035 and reach a staggering $1.2 trillion by mid-century.

Of the 10 leading causes of death, only Alzheimer’s has no cure, treatment or other means of prevention. If lawmakers at all levels don’t tackle this disease head-on now, not only will the costs be overwhelming but so will the consequences of losing millions of great American minds.

Voters should urge presidential candidates as well as their members of Congress to follow Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s lead and make finding a cure for Alzheimer’s the national priority that it ought to be.

George Vradenburg, Washington

The writer is co-founder and board chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s.